Garrison Keillor lied about why he was fired, lied about the extent of his behavior

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At the height of Sex Predatorgate 2017, Minnesota Public Radio fired Garrison Keillor, one of the major stars of public broadcasting here in America. MPR made it sound like they had a few complaints about Keillor, but he came out and said that it was a whole lotta nothing, that there was only really one questionable incident, where he accidentally touched a female coworker’s bare back and apologized. Would it shock you to learn that Garrison Keillor is a liar, and that he lied about why he was fired?

A 12-page letter detailing dozens of sexually inappropriate touches and incidents over the course of years. Keillor knew exactly why he was being investigated too, and he chose to gaslight his victim publicly and lie about it. In addition to that, MPR detailed how Keillor had at least two romantic (consensual) relationships with coworkers and he paid off at least one of the women with a $16,000 check. He was also sued for age and sex discrimination by a woman who claimed she was fired and replaced with a younger woman, and that when she was working with Keillor, there was a “pattern and practice of abusive conduct.” And she was paid less than her male colleagues. You can read the entire MPR statement here.

I’m glad I didn’t give Keillor the benefit of the doubt – his original story made no sense, and he seemed like one of those creepy older dudes who – much like George HW Bush – thinks his age gives him free license to act like a f–king pervert.

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38 Responses to “Garrison Keillor lied about why he was fired, lied about the extent of his behavior”

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  1. grabbyhands says:

    This one blew my mind – my Dad listened to Prairie Home Companion religiously while I was growing up and to know that GK was being a gross, abusive pervert the whole time while presenting this folksy persona is just disturbing, to say the least.

    • Esmom says:

      I’ve said this here before but his is the one NPR show I could never stomach. Even the first few notes of the opening music would send me running to the radio to turn it off. It was so contrived, that persona always seemed to contrived, that this didn’t really surprise me too much.

      I’m glad he was fired…but it’s just infuriating that Bigly Buttons still gets a pass but that’s a whole other topic.

      • Indiana Joanna says:

        Esmom, Gotta agree with you. I listened to his show off and on for 10 years but there was something off putting about him, even slyly creepy. So not too surprised by these allegations.

      • Bros says:

        Omg me too. I religiously listen to NPR but as soon as this show came on i would have to change the channel. It was like nails on a chalk board in my ears. Sometimes I would be driving and forget it was on bit feel vaguely annoyed and vexed and then Id realize it was because that goddamn show was on in the background. I always felt like Mrs White in Clue: i hated it soooo much, flames, FLAMES!!!

      • elle says:

        Me, too. I could not get away from it fast enough, and even having heard those opening notes put me in a bad mood!

    • Dolkite says:

      Ugh….my dad thinks that Lake Wobegon phrase about how all the men are handsome, the women beautiful, and the children are above average is hilarious.

      • blondems says:

        No, it was ‘Where all the women are strong, the men are good-looking and all the children are above average.’ It always struck me as a child the reversal of the stereotypical male/female characteristics and I really liked it for that. When I spent time in the US as a child my Dad and I used to listen to it together. Ugh, it makes me so sad and mad.

    • Amy says:

      There was a new segment about this on NPR this morning. Apparently, he also would write dirty sexual limericks about his female employees’ arousal on a white board in his book store.

      He is now working on a novella about a man who had to leave his job and move back home to Lake Wobegone after being ousted as a sexual predator. The incident that got the fictional character fired was a sexually explicit limerick.

      Also, he looks totally different than how I imagined he looked when I would listen to a prairie home companion.

      • Esmom says:

        That’s funny because I think he looks just like he sounds. I hate his vocal affectations and I hate that the guy who replaced him imitates that schtick in the same way.

  2. Kiki says:

    He, Harvey Weinstein, Donald Trump are such perverts Ugh. Ewww. Who is someone’s right mind thinks that some young women is going to like their perverse behavior. Ahg. And ewwww

    • Aang says:

      Yes. Gross. What do these gross old men think a young women could see in them?

      • Amy says:

        And the congressman who was the leader of the ethics committee looking into sexual assault and harassment claims against congressmen was also outed as a sexual harasser himself. He, a much much older, married man, kept writing letters and saying things to his younger, female staffer about how he was jealous of the men she dated. He kept telling her about his feelings for her. He called her his soul mate. He paid her some hush money with tax payer money. He claims that what he did isn’t sexual harassment—he was just being honest about his feelings for her. He claims that he is happily married, yet had these “platonic” soul mate feelings for the staffer. He made her so uncomfortable and she repeatedly told him to stop. And he doesn’t see how this is sexual harassment.

    • Melanie says:

      I think the unfortunate reality is that creeps like this don’t care if the women liker it.They only care about getting what they want. The woman’s feelings are a non-issue.

  3. bluhare says:

    He was doing it in the 1990’s. I know this for a fact. Not me, but a friend.

  4. smcollins says:

    Wow. You always knew this went beyond an “innocent” hand slip, but that it was as pervasive as it was and went on for as long as it did is truly disturbing. And now I don’t feel bad for verbalizing what I’ve always thought: that man has a face for radio. Anyone else see Sloth from The Goonies in that header pic? Sorry not sorry.

    • Giddy says:

      Yes, I reply guiltily. However, my sense of guilt pretty much dissipates when I think of having him touch me, and God forbid, be above me in a bed. Ewwwww! I’m going to go snuggle with my dog until these gross thoughts leave my head.

  5. Peggy says:

    Touching a woman on her back, and getting fired for it, yeah right. Keep telling yourself that Garrison.

    • Kate says:

      Oh, but that obviously incomplete story was all some people (cough cough Liam Neeson) needed to cling to their obtuse thoughts on #metoo going too far and taking down totally innocent men. I was waiting for more details to come out. No way a beloved radio personality was fired for a single accidental grazing.

  6. paranormalgirl says:

    I’m trying to figure out what’s going on with his eyes/face in that bottom pic. Is he channeling his inner Picasso?

    • marjiscott says:

      Or, he has turned into The Hunchback of Notre Dame..

    • tmot says:

      Booze? Bell’s Palsy? Who GAF anyway. He is so canceled. MPR should kill off Prarie Home and reassign the staff to a new venture. It probably used to be their biggest cash cow, but who would want to listen to it now?

  7. Lindy says:

    I listen to a ton of NPR but have never liked Lake Woebegone. I’m from the deep South and moved to the upper Midwest for grad school after living in the Northeast, West coast, and Europe. And without a doubt the Midwest was the biggest culture shock for me. I know there are many lovely midwesterners so I’m not making a blanket statement, but the kind of narrow-horizoned, parochial, white bread culture that Keillor is supposed to be gently parodying in his show basically felt like straight reality in my everyday life. I had never lived someplace so homogeneous, had never experienced the kind of sideways racism I saw there, had never run into the intensely right-wing Catholics I encountered there…

    After a number of years there, I blew up my career just to escape. I have many wonderful friendships from every era of my life, but I have not stayed in touch with a single person I met there. I remember listening to Keillor’s show while living there and feeling vaguely creeped out. It was supposed to be an affectionate sendup of that culture but came across as cynical with darker undercurrents.

    I knew when he issued that half-baked statement about touching a woman’s back that he had to be full of garbage. Ugh.

    • Betsy says:

      That’s cool. Many of us have the reverse experience in the Deep South.

      • Annika says:


      • Anastasia says:

        Yes. I’m from Texas, not the Deep South. I had to move to Georgia and Alabama when my husband was in the Army, and even for someone raised in Texas, the Deep South was a culture shock to me. Everyone was either black or white, very few other races (I was not living in Atlanta, but a mid-sized city in another part of the state). I’m sure there were a few Asians, etc, here and there, but not enough to even really notice. Oh why not say it? I was in Columbus. Then Phenix City, AL.

        The white people (I’m white) were so DEEPLY, UNABASHEDLY racist it made me cringe and want to vomit. The stuff they said when only whites were around! Yikes.

        And then even though this was the 90s (almost the entire decade was when I was there), white men still called black men “boy” on occasion, and black men and women called white women “Miss + their first name.” SO ODD. And such a throwback.

        It literally creeped me out being there. It felt like the perfect setting for a horror story. At least in Dallas, there’s lots of diversity. And it’s a blue county. 😉

    • Lindy says:

      Sorry if I touched a nerve; I have zero illusions about the deeply-rooted problems with race, religion, etc. in the south. I’m sharing my own personal experience in the midwest, which was pretty much a nightmare that ended with a gender-discrimination complaint I had to file at my workplace. Only later did I learn that my workplace had settled a race-discrimination suit with the person who held my position before I arrived.

      Keillor’s schtick always seemed cynical, and the tone it struck with me–as someone who was not a native of the region and had a miserable 7-year sojourn there–was pretty much representative of the interactions I had and cultural institutions I encountered while I was there. I’m sorry I seem to have offended midwesterners. As I said in my comment I know my experiences are not a blanket indictment of the people or the region and goodness knows there is plenty of dark and evil culture in the south.

      But the time I spent in the midwest was pretty traumatic, and the false nicey-niceness that hides a lot of ugly things which Keillor seems to have perfected was in line with how I experienced life there. I think that it’s sort of accepted knowledge that the south is racist and sexist, and any southern progressive person who doesn’t want to face that head on and work constantly to fight against those evils is part of the problem. In the midwest, I found less honesty about such things overall, even though a quick look at the Southern Poverty Law Center’s map of hate groups shows that there is plenty of that happening across the midwest as well.

      Anyhow, I’m not apologizing for commenting on the very real experiences I had over the course of several years, just as I’m most certainly not trying to claim that my experiences somehow mean the whole region is full of Keillor-esque hypocrites who are pretending to be decent progressives.

      For those who experienced a culture shock coming to the deep south or Texas, it’s not surprising. The devil you know and all that… I mostly just do my best to be honest about the realities (both good and ill) in the place I come from.

    • Wisca says:

      I hate PHC & when I found myself listening to it, I always felt something about my life was wrong. The mere listening made my question how I’d arrived at that moment.

      And those alienating skits?

      I hate NPR now. I am all about Podcasts, so I no longer have to listen to that We have to Support the Iraq War because–funding–nonsense.

      The Morning Edition critique of Cokie Roberts–the blandest centrist alive–for her criticism of trump, was the last straw.

  8. Boots says:

    The MPRNews radio segment that accompanies the MPR letter cited in this Celebitchy post is a good listen. The audio includes interviews with some of the specified women. The audio also includes other facets of this story that may provide a less slanted view and let listeners draw their own conclusions informed by more facts. My take (after reading this post, the letter and listening to the audio) is that Keillor was in the wrong and acted inappropriately more than once, but he also nurtured the careers of dozens of people without incident (as he should have). His behavior, though inappropriate, was in some (not all) instances in consensual context.

  9. Doodle says:

    A friend of mine had a friend who worked for MPR. She met Garrison when she went back for a visit. She said he was very smarmy when she met him, and he was very perturbed that she had no idea who he was! Very large ego.

  10. tealily says:

    My father was a big Garrison Keillor fan (My mom always hated him — I should have paid closer attention. Her radar is never off.), so I grew up listening to his show and have listened to it off and on as an adult nostalgically. And honestly, I am disappointed about this one but not at all shocked. I’m glad he’s already off the air and has turned over the reigns to someone else. I think Chris Thile is still finding his stride, but so far I think I’m going to like his version of the show much better.

  11. Wickster says:

    Agree with other commentators who mentioned how creep he was on Prairie Home Companion. I love listening to NP, but could not stomach that show. Not only was it entirely disingenuous , but he never missed a chance to throw in a misogynistic or sexualized comment–supposedly light-hearted, but it always felt creepy. And the show was NEVER funny. My NPR-loving friends joked about my virulent antipathy towards him for years. Hearing the accusations I was not only not surprised, but ecstatic. I think his attitudes about women and behavior towards them were apparent in PHC and I have to say I always was disappointed that NPR/ MPR never picked up on that. I thought I was the only one–but am so glad that other women on here are commenting on the same thing.

  12. Betsy says:

    Well, he gave the platform for Howard Mohr’s How to Speak Minnesotan, but if he’s a dirtbag…. bye. Plenty of other bookstores to patronize.

  13. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    Reading all your comments about listening with dads and being now sad really took me back. Although dad and I didn’t listen to this… person, I remember riding around listening to (drum roll please) none other than Rush Limbaugh. So many freakin’ hours. Years! I think if my dad were still here, and after running to him and hugging him for so very long, I’d give him a nice little slap across his cheek lol.

  14. Nikki says:

    I just saw his live show on tour a few months ago, and was very surprised how many sexual jokes he told, certainly not like on his radio show. But what skeeved me out was his “choreography” when singing several love song duets with a very, very much younger female singer. They faced each other, and he got so close to her, singing into her eyes rather than to the audience, I even said, “If I was his wife or her husband, I wouldn’t like that!!” Then I wondered if she felt she had to go along with it to keep her job. It was noticeably creepy, on several songs.

  15. Anastasia says:

    I used to listen to PHC, but being from Dallas, it was like listening to stories about a slightly alien world. I was an adult before I figured out what “hotdish” is.

    So I kinda liked the guy, but I knew that hand on the back story was utter bullshit.

    When it comes to sexual harassment/sexual assault, it seems the saying “where there’s smoke, there’s fire” is ALWAYS true.

  16. elise says:

    i am surprised, and annoyed, with the comments that refer/equate Keillor’s actions with that of Midwesterners.

  17. adastraperaspera says:

    Most disappointing for me is knowing that these men are not being held to account by their organizations at all, even at the most basic level of employment rules in the workplace. This kind of behavior should have been acted on by MPR management. They must have known.