In the continuing parade of powerful men being cast down by allegations of sexual misconduct, some revelations and accusations have prompted nods and easy acceptance. Others created surprise. Still, there are those that were followed by genuine spit-take level shock. This one probably falls into that last category.
Minnesota Public radio recently announced it would be firing Garrison Keillor, effective immediately. Keillor, and the creator as well as long-running writer and host of A Prairie Home Companion, has been the face of Minnesota Public Media. He is also the affable, curmudgeonly author and radio host who enchanted generations with tales of Lake Wobegon, and his homespun wisdom and charm.
What created even more shock is Keillor’s version of the story, which doesn’t seem to meet the criteria for instant firing set by other media names like Lauer and O’Reilly. Keillor insists that he was fired over an incident that is “more interesting and more complicated than the version MPR heard…”
But no level of “he said / she said” matters at this point. Keillor is done at MPR.
Regardless of any other versions of the story or anyone else’s wishes for elaboration, MPR said it had ended its business relationship with Keillor’s media companies “effective immediately.” That business relationship meant the cancellation of Keillor’s “The Writer’s Almanac,” a daily syndicated program, as well as reruns of the Best of “A Prairie Home Companion.”
A spokesman for MPR said: “Last month, MPR was notified of the allegations which relate to Mr. Keillor’s conduct while he was responsible for the production of A Prairie Home Companion. MPR President Jon McTaggart immediately informed the MPR Board Chair, and a special Board committee was appointed to provide oversight and ongoing counsel. In addition, MPR retained an outside law firm to conduct an independent investigation of the allegations. Based on what we currently know, there are no similar allegations involving other staff…”
That last part comes off a bit strange in context. Were they asked if anyone else was involved? Or was this overcompensation? In another statement, MPR expressed a different, more nuanced view of the situation:
“Garrison Keillor has been an important part of the growth and success of MPR, and all of us in the MPR community are saddened by these circumstances. While we appreciate the contributions Garrison has made to MPR and to all of public radio, we believe this decision is the right thing to do and is necessary to continue to earn the trust of our audiences, employees, and supporters of our public service…”
In an ironic twist, Keillor himself had weighed in on the current influx of allegations and consequences just the day before his firing in an op-ed published in The Washington Post. Speaking about the allegations against Senator Al Franken and the calls for Franken to resign his Senate seat, Keillor wrote:
“Eleven years later, a talk show host in L.A., goes public, and there is talk of resignation… This is pure absurdity, and the atrocity it leads to is a code of public deadliness. No kidding.”
Clearly, not everyone agrees.
Ronn Torossian is the Founder and CEO of the New York based public relations firm 5WPR: one of the 20 largest PR Firms in the United States.