Garrison Keillor, a public radio fixture who charmed audiences for decades with stories from his fictional hometown of Lake Wobegon, was abruptly canned by his employer over an incident that he claims amounted to him accidentally touching a woman’s bare back.
“I’ve been fired over a story that I think is more interesting and more complicated than the version [Minnesota Public Radio] heard,” Keillor said in a statement to the New York Times. “Most stories are.”
In a statement published Wednesday, MPR announced that the “A Prairie Home Companion” host and creator was the subject of an investigation into “allegations of his inappropriate behavior with an individual who worked with him.”
“MPR will end its business relationships with Mr. Keillor’s media companies effective immediately,” the statement read, detailing a swift and clean cut between MPR and Keillor’s widely-circulated body of work.
“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 an dis necessary to continue to earn the trust of our audiences, employees and supporters of our public service,” said MPR president Jon McTaggart.
Keillor explained his side of the story in an email to the Minnesota Star Tribune: “I put my hand on 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,” he continued. “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. Anyone who ever was around my show can tell you I was the least physically affection person in the building.”
Keillor went on to flip the script and suggest that he was the victim of groping at the hands of numerous women. “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,” he charged.
Keillor’s firing comes on the same day as longtime “Today” host Matt Lauer’s, whose abrupt departure from NBC News was also chalked up to sexual misconduct.