Garrison Keillor is fired for alleged misconduct

Garrison Keillor is fired for alleged misconduct


norman lebrecht

November 29, 2017

The music-friendly radio narrator was fired today by Minnesota Public Radio.

He told the Star-Tribune he had been accused of touching a woman’s bare back.

‘I meant to pat her back after she told me about her unhappiness and her shirt was open and my hand went up it about six inches. She recoiled. I apologized. I sent her an email of apology later and she replied that she had forgiven me and not to think about it. We were friends. We continued to be friendly right up until her lawyer called.’

A fan of the Minnesota Orchestra, Keillor stood by the suspended musicians during the lockout.

He has earned some reciprocal solidarity. At 75, it’s a terrible way to end a distinguished career.



  • boringfileclerk says:

    Screw due process. Lets fire EVERYONE on mere accusations!

    • Cubs Fan says:

      That’s where we’re headed. Guilty until proven innocent…if you’re a man. I think it’s just getting started.

      • Sue says:

        This is a frightening witch-hunt from a kangaroo court and we need all be worried about it. As we speak in Australia there is a journalist compiling ‘a list of names’!! There are some very conveniently neglected aspects to all of this and avoiding ruined careers/lives through lack of due process needs to be corrected with a statute of limitations. It’s McCarthyism all over again, this time from feminists. As the mother of 3 sons I object!

        What none of these list makers is intelligent enough to realize is CONTEXT. Touching a woman’s bottom, making sexually explicit innuendos…these, and more, were all part of the popular culture largely approved of by the community up until the mid to late 90s. Remember “Are You Being Served?” (British comedy) with Mrs. Slocum and her ‘pussy’ and countless other foul jokes with women very complicit in the gags. That was just the tip of the popular culture iceberg and there were lewd pop songs about “f***ing your mother”. All of these things gave everybody the impression that sex was something to be traded, laughed about, thrown about loosely and wantonly. Everybody agreed and the tabloid media up until comparatively recently had topless girls on page 3. This was the era of many of these old claims about harassment, but by no means the end of lewd popular culture. I’m appalled by the double standards and hypocrisy of ‘victims’ coming forward who were themselves part of that culture and who laughed at films which were little more than porn.

        The accusations should have been made at the time and the issues dealt with by the police. I worked in the TV media in the 1970s and I can assure you the females there were no shrinking violets and they took advantage of the ‘liberated’ post-pill years with anyone and everyone. What does that look like now and what message does it convey to males?

        • Malcolm James says:

          Last weekend I was staying with a friend who had some years ago been in a couple of high-profile positions in British orchestras and is still a well-known teacher. We discussed, amongst other things, the notorious womanising of top players in the profession, who had strings of affairs with their female pupils. As a result, these students got the chance to play with the top London orchestras (on a casual basis only, I hasten to add), which looked really good on their CV. Unethical and unprofessional certainly, but these students knew exactly what they were doing and why they were doing it and the real victims were those who were denied these opportunities, because they weren’t sleeping with their teachers. This includes men (although some of this may have gone on in gay circles as well), but also women who the professors did not approach for sexual favours and those who were propositioned, but refused.

          • Will Duffay says:

            You say ‘these students knew what they were doing and why they were doing it’ but how can you be so sure? Perhaps they felt pressured into it, perhaps they felt that’s how the music world works. Sounds absolutely wrong, inappropriate and damaging for those who complied as well as those who didn’t.

    • Ungeheuer says:

      It’s a bit more complicated. It’s not about absence or dismissal of due process. Rather, it is that due process has consistently failed victims of sexual predation over time. See the difference?

    • Ungeheuer says:

      Here’s an example of due process failure, this time involving NBC’s Matt Lauer:

      “The publication also included allegations that NBC News protected Lauer, cutting several woman [sic] and saying “they complained to executives at the network about Lauer’s behavior, which fell on deaf ears given the lucrative advertising surrounding ‘Today’.””

  • Dave says:

    It’s a good thing Bruckner isn’t still alive!

  • Robert Holmén says:

    None-the-less, I’m having trouble picturing the accidental transition from patting someone on the back to putting a hand up her shirt.

    • Larry says:

      I’m guessing this means that her shirt/blouse became untucked and rode up a few inches which is she would have been momentarily exposed. What is strange is why the woman first accepted his apology, then later told the story to a lawyer and MPR. Something seems fishy about this and is way different from accusations made about Harvey Weinstein, Louis CK, Charlie Rose, et. al.

      • Robert Holmén says:

        You’re asserting his description is all there is to know about it and is not crafted to minimize blame.

        The woman worked on his show, which means he was the boss and she wasn’t and she didn’t have a lot of options. Bring down the host and his show and put everyone out of work like happened with Louis CK?

        • Steve P says:

          You are assuming a person wouldn’t assume victim status for financial gain. So lots of assumptions going on around here.

          • R. Brite says:

            Any woman who has ever reported sexual misconduct, especially on the part of a supervisor, knows very well there’s previous little financial gain and a huge amount of unpleasantness involved. In my view, you would do well to apologize for suggesting otherwise. Even if, say, 1 in 1,000 reports were false or financially motivated, your comment shows why the other 999 are likely reluctant to seek justice.

          • Steve P says:

            All right, I’ll apologize for insinuating this was done with any financial intent.

  • Sweethomechicago says:

    On one hand I wished I’d read this before (over)reacting to the headline: “I meant to pat her back after she told me about her unhappiness and her shirt was open and my hand went up it about six inches,” he said. “She recoiled. I apologized.””

    On the other hand, his past comments show his flippant attitude at the time. Flirtation and touch are not the same thing.

    • Steve P says:

      So if he was flirting he should be shot out of s cannon? Sweet baby jeebus this world is lost.

      • Bruce says:

        “Flirting” with a subordinate is not necessarily really flirting, from the subordinate’s point of view. (The boss guy might think it is though)

        Anyway, there was apparently an independent investigation by an outside law firm first, so whatever they found or didn’t find, the decision to fire him wasn’t simply a knee-jerk reaction to some random accusation.

  • Bill says:

    I think the only solution is to have strict segregation of the sexes at work, and maybe at all times unless in the presence of a chaperone. Clearly, anything will be construed as an assault now, even the most innocuous of interactions.
    Some world…

    • Sixtus says:

      The Kevin Spaceys of this world would surely take full advantage of such segregation.

    • boringfileclerk says:

      Segregation by sex does not work, especially when there are same sex predators. I say everyone should just stop interacting with everyone except over the computer that is monitored by the police for any possible sign of abuse.

  • Grant Barnes says:

    Keillor’s email concluded, “If I had a dollar for every woman who asked to take a selfie with me and who slipped an arm around me and let it drift down below the beltline, I’d have at least a hundred dollars. So this is poetic irony of a high order. But I’m just fine. I had a good long run and am grateful for it and for everything else.”. One has to acknowledge that his defense is not calculated to enhance respect for him.

    • laurie says:

      sounds delusional. he’s hardly irresistible.

      it’s tragic that all of this is distracting people from the Republican tax bill.

      • Ungeheuer says:

        Not really. What it is doing is sending a clear message that sexual predation is partisanless. And it may help the people of Alabama realize that the accusations against their own Roy Moore are valid and independent of political party. After all, many of the accused of late are or appear to belong to the liberal political class. OTOH, it is possible Republican leaning Alabamians could misconstrue all this as behavior resulting from years of liberal excess all the while looking the other way on the same behavior from their own. We may never know.

        • Steve P says:

          Gawd Bless the good folks in Alabama and bring on the tax bill. I’m about ready to pay less taxes for the useless.

          • Gary says:

            Actually, if you read the bill, you’ll be paying more taxes to give the useless parasites at the top another tax break..

          • Anon says:

            Gary, problem with dimwits like him is that they never read the bills. That’s why that country is in the toilet and going down now, at least as far as a good 80-90% of their population are concerned.

          • Steve P says:


  • anmarie says:

    So what if he touched her back?

    I think my fellow Americans have gone nuts.

    • Ungeheuer says:

      Without consent, at a minimum, it constitutes a violation of the other’s personal space. I am sure there’s more in this than meets the eye (or hand).

      • Steve P says:

        Personal space violation? What in the hell are you talking about?!? I should have the next bad-Breathed subway rider arrested for invading my air-space.

  • Ted Fordham says:

    Amidst all of this, I continually wonder when someone will come forward about that well-known opera music director who has been rumored for decades to have done all kind of improper things, and will minors no less.

    Or does the silence mean that the rumors were false?

  • liberalsforsharia says:

    Why not sharia law in the workplace? Burqas? Why not separation? Orthodoxy? Why not sharia?

    No due process.

    No innocence until guilt.

  • harold braun says:

    Ridiculous,typically american,hysterical witch hunt.

  • Grant Barnes says:

    For those calling out witch-hunts, there were never witches. There are sexual predators, and they should be held to account. For those repeating Keillor’s own description of a solitary act, that version is self-serving, and the facts uncovered by the lawfirm internal investigation for MPR have not been disclosed. For those believing the suspension was precipitous, the 90 million dollar settlement Fox News just last week agreed to pay for its failure timely to disclose what the company knew about two of its most prominent employees undoubtedly focuses directors on the liability that can arise by failure to act promptly.

  • Michael says:

    Even if it were as simple as someone putting their hand on someone’s back (just his side of the story to lessen the blame), how is that good judgment? I would never consider touching someone there – that’s personal space – or really anywhere…not at work…not acceptable. You don’t just accidentally touch someone in the back and your hand doesn’t accidentally rise up. His explanation is useless and makes no sense. And it just so happens the back was open?…tell me he didn’t have deeper motives? Anyone believing otherwise is an idiot. Unfortunately, there is a sizeable population that thinks this is acceptable behavior. It’s not.

    • Steve P says:

      It is not acceptable. So he should have apologized. Which he did.

      • Michael says:

        Wrong moron. He apologized because he got caught and because it turned out to be an unwanted advance. Otherwise he would not have apolgized. That’s sexual harrassment, plain and simple whether he apologized or not. That’s a fireable offense in any company in America friend. And due process takes place at the front office.

        • Anon says:

          Oh please. False equivalence. An unwanted advance is NOT sexual harassment.
          It becomes an harassment, if the target of the advance objects, but the advancement is continued. Apparently that’s not what happened.
          Sexual harassment is wrong. But courting and ‘trying to make a move’ is normal human behavior, or otherwise we all would not be here. Let’s be real, not ideologically blinded idiots.

        • Steve P says:

          Are you a judge and jury, asshole? Seems like you are rather one-sided and quick to assume the narrative of one person.

        • Mike Schachter says:

          Have you considered a career with the Taliban?

          • Steve P says:

            They seem like a neat bunch, but I prefer my current environs surrounded by like minded deplorables

  • Steve P says:

    And as far as reciprocal solidarity goes, I’d prefer withholding judgement either way until all facts are in. If the accuser is a lying SOS, then solidarity away; if Keillor is the SOS, then let him hang with the rest of lib predators.

  • Anon says:

    Stalinist witch hunt. Burn anyone who has some testosterone left in his balls and can’t control it 100% of the time. What happened to the concept of being human?

  • harold braun says:

    Hysterical,ridiculous,totally unappropriate reaction of MPR.Okay,go ahead,America,for”offences”like this,you can fire 60 percent of male people in any profession.It´s all about lawyers making big and fast bucks.

  • Anon says:

    Isn’t it very hypocritical, to say on one side women are fully equal creatures to men, but then on the other side treat them like a helpless endangered species, or like a minor or a handicapped person, that is not able to say by themselves ‘No’ if a man puts his hand on their back in a way they do not like?

    • I'm not a misogynist, but... says:

      oh god YES, this x10000. The more women demand “equality”, yet also shriek and carry on and get men’s careers and lives ruined because they patted them on the bum once 20 years ago, the more I’m grateful to be gay and 100% free of the desire to mingle with women in ANY way. One less thing I’m ever going to have to worry about, I suppose!

    • Bruce says:

      I think it’s more about superiors vs subordinates, and also consent vs non-consent. Patting someone on the back, in a “good job” or “there, there” way, is [probably] OK; sliding your hand under someone’s clothes is not.

      Even if he apologized and she accepted, that doesn’t necessarily mean everything was fine. If you’re a subordinate and you want to keep your job (or at least not make it even more awkward on a daily basis), you try to make sure your boss is not unhappy with you.

  • Lilian says:

    The current relentless witchunt in the Unites States, to root out any person,male for now, who has shown any sign of being sexually active and interested, is yet another symptom of their downward spiral into becoming a fundamentalist, fascist, totalitarian state. I agree that true sexual predators should be brought to justice, but as always in the U.S., nothing is done in moderation or with nuanced reasoned intelligent thought. Everything is portrayed in black and white. Good or evil, friend or enemy, you’re either with us or against us, good guys or bad guys…
    What a sad, pathetic society, still behaving like a toddler in diapers, throwing tantrums and making accusations and destroying careers and personal lives on flimsy evidence often dating back decades in far too many cases. Stalin would be proud of this moronic society, as would the original Puritans, or the most severe and dour members of Victorian England.
    When you add on top of this that they elected a President like Donald Trump, himself a self admitted perpetrator of sexual abuse and harassment of women, then the American picture is complete. I only hope that they don’t take the rest of the world down with them in their precipitous fall.

    • Mike Schachter says:

      Most of this is coming from the so called liberal left, about as liberal as the Stasi, in keeping with the Soros plan for a permanent one party state. Hardly the Land of the Free, more the land of the eunuch and the robot.

    • Musician in the Hudson Valley says:

      Thank you, Lillian, for saying this. Like you, I fear this is where we’re headed. I’ve actually been seeing it since the 1970s, and speaking up, but nobody would believe me. I kept hoping the American people would wake up and turn things around. But we seem to be rushing ever faster down a dark hole, spurred on by the vile addiction of social media.

    • harold braun says:

      Spot on comment.On top of that,if the “victims” had enjoyed any professional success,there would be dead silence,right?

  • Bruce says:

    Keep in mind that this firing was done after an independent investigation, not simply as a knee-jerk reaction to some random accusation. They checked it out, found the allegations credible, and then acted on them.

  • Andrew Crease says:

    Didn’t the PM of Canada touch lady Diana’s bare back? What that mean now times have changed . the Tower for him???