Garrison Keillor Says He Was Fired for Putting Hand on ‘Woman’s Bare Back’

“I meant to pat her back”

Garrison Keillor

Garrison Keillor has weighed in on being fired by Minnesota Public Radio for “inappropriate behavior with an individual who worked with him.”

The former “A Prairie Home Companion” host told the Minnesota Star Tribune in an email on Wednesday he was fired for touching a “woman’s bare back.”

“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,” said Keillor in an email to the Minnesota Star Tribune. “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.”

Keillor started the renowned weekly variety show in 1974 and hosted until last year, when he passed “APHC” onto current host Chris Thile. “A Prairie Home Companion” was often set in the fictional town of Lake Wobegon — “where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average.” The show blended humor, musical acts, and parody with Keillor at the helm. It also inspired 2006’s “Prairie Home Companion,” the last film directed by Robert Altman.

Keillor added a joke in his email to the Star: “Getting fired is a real distinction in broadcasting and I’ve waited fifty years for the honor. All of my heroes got fired. I only wish it could’ve been for something more heroic.”

Earlier on Wednesday, Minnesota Public Radio released a statement, saying it had fired Keillor after hiring an outside law firm to investigate the allegations. MPR declined to expand on the “inappropriate behavior” Keillor was fired for in an email to TheWrap.

“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 (APHC). MPR President Jon McTaggart immediately informed the MPR Board Chair, and a special Board committee was appointed to provide oversight and ongoing counsel,” read the statement. “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. The attorney leading the independent investigation has been conducting interviews and reviewing documents, and the investigation is still ongoing.”

MPR and American Public Radio also announced they’ll be purging their stations of anything tied to Keillor; “A Prairie Home Companion” will be renamed, old episodes hosted by Keillor will stop being rebroadcast, and “all business relationships” would be severed immediately with the 75-year-old host.