Minnesota Public Radio fired longtime public radio personality Garrison Keillor on Wednesday following allegations of inappropriate behavior with a female colleague.
And it was just Tuesday evening that the Washington Post published an op-ed by Keillor titled, "Al Franken should resign? That’s absurd."
For those of you tuning in just now, Franken, the Democratic senator from Minnesota, has been accused by four women of unwanted sexual contact.
Keillor, who is best known for the long-running radio show “A Prairie Home Companion,” from which he retired last year, characterized his firing from a different show as “a real distinction in broadcasting.”
He also maintained in an email to the Star Tribune Wednesday that the alleged inappropriate behavior is all a big misunderstanding.
“I put my hand on a woman’s bare back,” he said. “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.”
“We were friends,” Keillor added. “We continued to be friendly right up until her lawyer called.”
He said in a separate statement on his website, “I am sorry for all the poets whose work I won't be reading on the radio and sorry for the people who will lose work on account of this.”
He added, "But my profound feeling is that of gratitude, especially to my wife Jenny, and for this painful experience that has brought us even close together."
Interestingly enough, this all comes just hours after Keillor got the Washington Post to publish a defense of a senator who also stands accused of sexual misconduct.
“Franken should change his name to Newman and put the USO debacle behind him and then we’ll change frankincense to Febreze. Remove the slaveholder Washington from our maps, replacing him with Wampanoag, and replace Jefferson, who slept with Sally Hemings — consensual? I doubt it — with Powhatan, and what about the FDR Drive in New York, named for a man who was unfaithful to his wife?” Keillor’s article asked sarcastically. “Let’s call it RFD and let it go at that.”
That op-ed has been updated since so that it now includes the following editor’s note: “After we published this column, Minnesota Public Radio announced it was terminating its contracts with Garrison Keillor due to ‘allegations of his inappropriate behavior with an individual who worked with him.’ The Post takes allegations of this kind seriously and is seeking more information about them.”
That’s one hell of an update.
Lastly, the timing of Keillor’s piece is curious enough to arouse suspicion.
MPR almost certainly didn’t make a split decision overnight to fire Keillor. He’s a radio legend, for goodness sake. The decision to let him go was likely weeks in the making. Keillor was almost certainly approached at some point to give his side of the story. That would mean he was aware that something was around the bend for him, which suggests his Franken “defense" is less a spirited defense of a kindred spirit and more a shrewd ass-covering move.
If the op-ed was indeed a preemptive move in self-defense, it was a good attempt. It doesn’t seem to have done him any good, but a good attempt nonetheless.