Prairie home of troubling incidents and workplace relationships
January 24, 2018 8:02 AM   Subscribe

Minnesota Public Radio News has released an independent investigation of Garrison Keillor's conduct. MPR News has been operating at arm's-length from its parent organization. It has unearthed "a years-long pattern of behavior that left several women who worked for Keillor feeling mistreated, sexualized or belittled" but does not detail the specific incident leading to the separation of MPR and Keillor. MPR's president Jon McTaggart also answered some FAQ yesterday about the situation.
posted by Ogre Lawless (85 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
 
I received the FAQ in an email yesterday (as did all MPR subscribers). It made me wonder if I'd missed the article, but apparently the article came out just afterwards.
posted by dinty_moore at 8:09 AM on January 24


Well, that's the news from Lake Wobegon... the women are still strong, the men aren't looking so good, and it turns our certain hosts are man children who are well below-average.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:10 AM on January 24 [62 favorites]


Also the FAQ was not kidding around. No, we're not doxxing people, no, we're not being blindly malicious, yes, there was due process, no, we're not overreacting.
posted by dinty_moore at 8:11 AM on January 24 [32 favorites]


I discussed our request for a careful transition with Garrison, personally, on the phone the evening of November 28. The next morning, Garrison emailed the media claiming he was “fired” by MPR. Since then, Garrison has posted statements to social media and provided information to reporters that have not been fully accurate and have suggested that MPR did not handle these matters thoughtfully. The irony is that while MPR has been careful to protect Garrison’s privacy and not hurry any decisions, others have rushed to judge and criticize MPR’s actions without knowing the facts.

Fuck that guy
posted by thecjm at 8:19 AM on January 24 [35 favorites]


Nice to see an example of a respectful and fair process in this kind of thing. Even if GK kind of sucked at the end it seems, they treated him as well as the complainants with respect and even-handedness. Well done MPR.
posted by Meatbomb at 8:20 AM on January 24 [5 favorites]


It looks like they are being as transparent as they can, and he has skulked away. He's been very creepy, very "dirty old man," on air for a while. I stopped listening to "PHC" some years ago even though it meant missing Pat Donohue and the other great musicians.

Also:
Question: Why did MPR end public access to the online archives of A Prairie Home Companion (APHC) and The Writer’s Almanac?

Answer: Garrison Keillor owns the legal rights and trademarks to A Prairie Home Companion. Garrison and his companies own many of the rights to the shows' artistic content. Unfortunately, this means MPR cannot grant public access to what we no longer have permission to use, nor can we post APHC content on our websites, or continue to use the name A Prairie Home Companion or any of its related brands in MPR programming. We know how important these archives are to the thousands of performers and artists whose work is included in these programs, and to countless fans of these shows. We hope that we can agree with Garrison on a way to provide public access to these online archives.
What a dick.
posted by wenestvedt at 8:26 AM on January 24 [17 favorites]


Keillor "kind of sucked at the end"?? It seems like he's been an abusive creep for years and then outright lied, smeared his victims, and tried to damage the reputation of MPR. He's added to the growing chorus of #MeToo has gone to far, with people like Liam Neeson calling it a witch hunt - using Keillor's (absolutely untrue) assertion that he was ruined for accidentally touching a woman's back. That's a whole lot more than kind of sucking just there at the end.
posted by I'm Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today! at 8:32 AM on January 24 [60 favorites]


between this and On the Media's intense, personal, and detail-oriented coverage of John Hockenberry's regular disenfranchisment of women of color and his own persistent sexual assault, I'm willing to say that of all the institutions that are grappling with their failures of accountability, public radio is one of the few that are doing so in a all right sort of way

publicity, transparency, persistent coverage of, and the production of content against misogyny, especially when it comes from your own midst, is a good step above bare minimum in a world where that bare minimum threshold is rarely met. here's to them pushing the issue even more
posted by runt at 8:32 AM on January 24 [28 favorites]


I received the FAQ in an email yesterday (as did all MPR subscribers). It made me wonder if I'd missed the article, but apparently the article came out just afterwards.

I heard the report on the radio and after it was over I immediately got the email from McTaggert. That was tight coordination!

One of the best quotes, for my money:

In scores of interviews with former staff members of The Writer's Almanac, Prairie Home and at Keillor's St. Paul bookstore, MPR News reporters were unable to verify the story of Keillor putting his hand on a woman's back, or his claim of extortion. But there are many who describe other troubling incidents or relationships.

That said they spent way too much time reporting on all the women who thought he was a stand up guy.

I think what struck me more than the sexual harassment (because I'm all to familiar with all that shit) is just understanding, again, how far reaching the effects of having misogynists in positions of power are. It's not just derailing the careers of women he slept with or women on his staff - then there are the female writers who were never featured on Almanac because he was in charge, and all the female listeners whose experiences weren't reflected back to them in the art he featured, as well as the men who had their own perspective reinforced as being the right one. Plus, knowing how tight his control was over PHC, that's hours and hours and hours of a misogynist's view on what's funny, what's worth talking about, etc, featured on the radio weekend after weekend and often credited for a major role in creating the public radio powerhouse that is MPR. It's awful to contemplate.
posted by Emmy Rae at 8:32 AM on January 24 [51 favorites]


I thought his schtick got old some many many years ago. He was basically rehashing Winesburg, Ohio for decades with a bit more humor and music thrown in. I used to admire Keillor. I read his books, and listened to his programs, but the man did not evolve. His jokes got tiresome and he would actually make me angry when I heard him on the radio. I realize this was an irrational distaste, but I couldn't get past the fact that he'd over-stayed his welcome and that his show just wasn't as good as everyone pretended it was. I felt like he was sucking the oxygen out of public radio, and much like the Car Talk guys, keeping anything new from rising up.

I worked with people who worked for IPR, and none of them had good stories to tell about him. All described him as creepy and leering. The joke wasn't that he was some serial harasser, but rather he was a serial adulterer and liked to trade his women in for newer models on a regular basis.

I really won't miss this guy.
posted by cjorgensen at 8:35 AM on January 24 [29 favorites]


Well, this is surprisingly disappointing. :(
posted by daisyk at 8:38 AM on January 24 [1 favorite]


If his bullshit no-one-can-substantiate-it story about touching the woman's back were true, it's still uncool behavior: "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," Keillor wrote.

Oh, you just reached inside a colleague's open shirt (presumably a button down with a shirt underneath?) when she told you about a problem in her life? Wow who would have known that might not be welcome! I doubt I would do that to a good friend because it would be AWKWARD to reach INSIDE someone's shirt. Jesus Christ. Come up with a better lie, asshole.
posted by Emmy Rae at 8:41 AM on January 24 [12 favorites]


cjorgensen, I agree almost completely, but I can't endorse "much like the Car Talk guys."

(I live in fear that something will come out about Tommy. Please, no, please, please not Tommy... Honestly, though, at this point nothing short of Bill Moyers or Mister Rogers would surprise me.)
posted by Don Pepino at 8:42 AM on January 24 [1 favorite]


I live in fear that something will come out about Tommy.

Uh, you mean like his sexist jokes? I think Ray must have told him to knock it off at some point, but he was a pro at haha my horrible ex wife, haha my awful mother-in-law jokes. I mean, I enjoyed Car Talk and I felt like they generally didn't talk down to women like a lot of every day mechanics tend to, but Tommy liked to kick off the show with stereotypical sexist crap on occasion.
posted by Emmy Rae at 8:48 AM on January 24 [14 favorites]


I live in fear that something will come out about Tommy.

probably a good time to accept that we live in a sexist, patriarchal society and ethics and accountability is very rarely even an afterthought when disproportionate power is involved

which is to say that I have the opposite attitude: I would love to see many, many, many more people held accountable for their complicity in oppression, whether it's racism, sexism, ableism, cishet hegemony, etc - so that more people realize that not thinking you're a shitty privileged person because you're not actively being the worst abuser of power is too low and too easy of a standard to hold yourself to
posted by runt at 8:49 AM on January 24 [15 favorites]


Tommy from Car Talk died in 2014, it’s been reruns for years .
posted by ActingTheGoat at 8:50 AM on January 24 [4 favorites]


Mister Rogers wouldn't just be a surprise. It would be actual proof that the goddamn world is ending. I'd start going to church and prepping, Biblical-style.
posted by elsietheeel at 8:51 AM on January 24 [33 favorites]


Yea, if Mister Rogers .... I just can't even think, let alone talk, about it. It'd be like finding out Bob Ross was moonlighting as a punk rock lead singer or something.
posted by RolandOfEld at 8:55 AM on January 24 [4 favorites]


Tommy from Car Talk died in 2014, it’s been reruns for years .

I thought the reruns ended last year. Not sure if there's a podcast feed around.
posted by ZeusHumms at 8:55 AM on January 24


As for Garrison Keillor, he seems to be slipping more and more into the Bill Cosby mode of defense and non-introspection.
posted by ZeusHumms at 8:56 AM on January 24 [4 favorites]


Maybe a little less make believe allegations against dead guys and little more talking about the topic at hand?
posted by I'm Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today! at 8:58 AM on January 24 [28 favorites]


The more I have thought about Keillor, the less surprised I am about the accusations. An overbearing person with an inflated ego who ignored the times changing around him for decades has shitty, retrograde behavior toward women? Yeah, I buy that.

It is, as others have noted, still noteworthy and commendable how MPR handled this investigation. They did this as soberly, conscientiously, and even-handedly as they could.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:59 AM on January 24 [12 favorites]


A thing that is frustrating about this is all the people who heard his initial lie, thought "a witch hunt! They're coming for innocent men already!" and won't hear this or won't believe it or will believe it as a fact but won't change their belief that women are unreasonable and men are being punished for innocuous actions (instead of, finally, receiving a consequence for harassment*).

The best thing about this information being provided (and obviously nothing is actually good about this, what a creep and what a terrible writer of limericks, I am way better than that) is that next time someone says "I'm being persecuted for only blah blah blah" and people around me believe them I can say "Garrison Keillor said he only touched a woman's back by accident and it turns out he had a long, documented history of harassing young women over whom he had authority." I hate that I have to look at that as a silver fucking lining but at least it's not abstract.

*Not to mention no longer being in a position of power over women but God forbid we center women's experiences in anything.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 9:03 AM on January 24 [31 favorites]


[Keillor] posted that he was making progress on a screenplay about Lake Wobegon... "Instead of coming home for his dad's funeral, John now comes home because he's been fired for a limerick with sexual innuendo in it and sending it to a number of fellow employees including one who considered it an assaultive act."

In posts to his Facebook page, Keillor describes himself as hard at work on a novella entitled "Inappropriate Behavior"


I guess he thought when OJ wrote "If I Did It" that's what really cleared his name in the eyes of the public? Good lord.
posted by Emmy Rae at 9:03 AM on January 24 [16 favorites]


Tommy from Car Talk died in 2014. Mr. Rogers has been dead since 2003. Is it necessary to make up imaginary complaints about dead people in a thread about actual allegations against someone who is very much alive? Why are y'all doing this?

Even if GK kind of sucked at the end it seems, they treated him as well as the complainants with respect and even-handedness.

They handled it properly. They investigated and fired his predatory ass to prevent more people from being harassed and groped by him. But I'm sorry, they shouldn't get a cookie for doing what they're supposed to do, and for taking pre-emptive action to protect themselves from getting sued in the future. They'd leave his shows on their website if they could, to make more money off of them.
posted by zarq at 9:04 AM on January 24 [19 favorites]


a limerick with sexual innuendo in it and sending it to a number of fellow employees including one who considered it an assaultive act.

Every part of this is disgusting.

1) It didn't have sexual innuendo in it, it was straight up about a specific young woman who worked somewhere he owned.

2) Don't send limericks with sexual innuendo to fellow employees. Work isn't for that.

3) ONE considered it an assaultive act, definitely, what an unreasonable shrew, there is no way that other people felt uncomfortable and didn't say anything, it's definitely just one person who thought it was assaultive.

Like how do these men manage to believe, or at least act like they believe, that what they did was okay? They PERSISTENTLY double down on their behavior instead of just shutting up (same with that congressman who was like "THE LETTER I SENT MY SUBORDINATE SAYING WE WERE SOULMATES WAS FINE, I'LL PROVE IT BY RELEASING THE LETTER"). It's sickening, everything they do is disingenuous and twisted and just gross, I hate it so much.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 9:08 AM on January 24 [20 favorites]


they shouldn't get a cookie for doing what they're supposed to do

I understand how you feel, but given how poorly similar situations has been handled by virtually every outlet that has had to confront them, there is a certain amount to be said for staking out the parameters of what "doing it right" looks like. Maybe not a cookie, but at least a grudging, respectful nod so that others might take note of a decently-handled example.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:10 AM on January 24 [22 favorites]


A thing that is frustrating about this is all the people who heard his initial lie, thought "a witch hunt! They're coming for innocent men already!" and won't hear this or won't believe it or will believe it as a fact but won't change their belief that women are unreasonable and men are being punished for innocuous actions (instead of, finally, receiving a consequence for harassment*).

See also everyone who defended Dustin Hoffman, Woody Allen, Aziz Ansari, Kevin Spacey, Matt Lauer, Jonathan Schwartz, Ryan Lizza, Al Franken, Bill Cosby, etc., etc. The list is endless.

People who defend sexual predators aren't going to have their minds changed by logic or facts. They clearly don't give a shit about the victims. They're emotionally invested in defending those who attack, abuse and molest their fellow human beings.
posted by zarq at 9:14 AM on January 24 [10 favorites]


My question is: are all the places that parroted the line about "He was let go because he accidentally sorta-kinda touched her bare back while trying to comfort her" going to go back and say "Hey, guys, sorry about that, looks like we minimized this important-ass story"?
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:14 AM on January 24 [15 favorites]


I suspected he was disgusting for years. I remember some novel of his where his expy main character was persecuted by an undergrad girl in an organization called "Wounded Daughters of Distant Fathers." In the same book, he complained about professors assigning the diaries of "18th-century vicars' daughters" instead of the classics. It was so weirdly specific that I remembered it forever, even though I put the book down for good right about then.

Also, he had an advice column in Salon once, in which he advised solving marital problems with, among other things, "languorous, delicious oral sex." This is a phrase that appeared in my head whenever I heard his voice on NPR, and now I bet it'll appear in yours too. I always told myself that he was just a cranky old bastard and that was the end of it, but it appears I was -- well, wrong on top and right in suspecting all along.
posted by Countess Elena at 9:14 AM on January 24 [25 favorites]


Also, he had an advice column in Salon once, in which he advised solving marital problems with, among other things, "languorous, delicious oral sex." This is a phrase that appeared in my head whenever I heard his voice on NPR, and now I bet it'll appear in yours too.

THANKS SO MUCH FOR THAT.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:18 AM on January 24 [80 favorites]


I happened to be driving across Minneapolis last night as MPR aired their in-depth story on this, and I don't think I've ever yelled "no fucking WAY" at my radio with more emphasis than when they got to the part where he wrote a lewd limerick about an employee on a whiteboard in his bookstore and then, when she complained, responded by sending her a letter that said "I'm sorry you were offended" and proceeded to explain to her what limericks are.

Longtime Minnesotan, proud to have been on the Keillor-is-a-shitball bandwagon since the 1990s. Also, I'm amazed at how many people in the Twin Cities are just a degree or two away some shitty Keillor behavior.
posted by the phlegmatic king at 9:19 AM on January 24 [16 favorites]


Like how do these men manage to believe, or at least act like they believe, that what they did was okay? They PERSISTENTLY double down on their behavior instead of just shutting up

When I was 18 I had a (completely) inappropriate relationship with my 35+yr old boss. There were a few times when I had to put my foot down because he'd blur the lines on our relationship and our jobs, he'd be mean to me, he listen in to my personal calls, etc. It ran its course, I left that job, we still occasionally spoke. A couple years later he tells me I need to call his lawyer because an employee is accusing him of sexual harassment and he wants me to be a character witness. I straight up laughed at him and said I wasn't going to lie in court to protect him and he seemed (or pretended to be) shocked that his behavior towards me wasn't ok in the context of work even if I was a willing partner. I spent some time trying to find the person who had the complaint against him so I could offer to help her, but I was sadly unsuccessful. He and I don't talk anymore. But yeah, he really seemed to believe that me describing our relationship would exonerate him somehow.
posted by I'm Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today! at 9:24 AM on January 24 [40 favorites]


a limerick with sexual innuendo in it and sending it to a number of fellow employees including one who considered it an assaultive act.

Seriously, he wrote this about a college student!! A college student! Not that it would be, like, totally cool about someone who was thirty, but ugh, definitely a "reach out and punch face" moment.

I have been off him since he wrote what seemed at the time a bizarrely, inexplicably homophobic Salon advice column in which he said that if gay men wanted to have kids, they would have to give up their hard-partying lifestyles, emphasis on fashion and obsession with personal appearance. This happened sometime around 2005 or 2006, I think, and it was really weird - not just homophobic but confusingly homophobic, like he'd started talking about "inverts" or something.

Of course, since we now know that he's a giant creep, that column makes more sense.
posted by Frowner at 9:25 AM on January 24 [28 favorites]


Yeah, I've been off the opinion that Keillor is creepy for well over a decade. That artificial way of speaking and carefully sculpted nostalgiafor for small - town America just made me suspicious. Like a preacher who afford a folksy attitude so he can better manipulate the parishioners.

Ah well, time for him to eat some rhubarb pie.
posted by happyroach at 9:33 AM on January 24 [2 favorites]


I understand how you feel, but given how poorly similar situations has been handled by virtually every outlet that has had to confront them, there is a certain amount to be said for staking out the parameters of what "doing it right" looks like. Maybe not a cookie, but at least a grudging, respectful nod so that others might take note of a decently-handled example.

I'm really kind of done with praising media outlets who do the right thing because at this point I don't see any up side to it. Most of them seem to have only taken action to fire employees when allegations were made public and their bottom lines were threatened. Some actively covered up what was going on for years or decades. Some protected their talent and set up hush money settlements with victims, that would have severely punished them if they had come forward.

All of those organizations already knew what the humane and compassionate thing to do was before they decided to screw over victims of sexual harassment, abuse and assault. They knew it because the people involved in deciding to protect talent over victims are presumably normal human beings and not sociopaths who are unable to know right from wrong. They shouldn't need an example of another company in their (or any other) industry to look up to or to help them figure out how to be decent.

They made a deliberate choice to not do the right thing, and having an example to point out where they failed is useless because of it.
posted by zarq at 9:43 AM on January 24 [2 favorites]


I've always loved APHC, but mainly for the music, the guests, and the Royal Academy of Radio Actors. Garrison was always super creepy to the young female guests during the show. I went on a few of the APHC cruises as well and he would creep around the boat skeeving on passengers. That sort of behavior doesn't just start when you're old. I'm sure he'd been extremely inappropriate off the air and out of the public eye for a long time.
posted by Arbac at 9:57 AM on January 24 [7 favorites]


His book store moved next to Macalester College in Saint Paul several years ago, in a building owned by the college. Last year, when the allegations against him first came out, the student newspaper had a response piece. (Mac responds to Keillor allegations - Abe Asher, The Mac Weekly). They appear to be on break right now; I'd be interested to see how the college feels about him now.
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:06 AM on January 24 [2 favorites]


[Several comments deleted; please let it rest, about "who else would hypothetically be a bummer to learn this kind of thing about", and other meta-debates that aren't actually about this Keillor case. Just discuss Keillor if you have stuff to say about it.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 10:21 AM on January 24 [11 favorites]


Thank you, LM.
posted by zarq at 10:22 AM on January 24 [5 favorites]


This textbook example of walking on eggshells so the volatile person doesn't escalate jumped out at me:
Hilgenberg said the store staff feared Keillor's reaction if they were to erase the limerick, so they temporarily covered it with books and a portrait of F. Scott Fitzgerald.

But after consulting with their manager, who Hilgenberg said was "a great boss," she and a second coworker erased the verse. Their concern about Keillor's reaction was prescient, Hilgenberg said. He became angry upon seeing the blank whiteboard at his store.
posted by Flannery Culp at 10:22 AM on January 24 [28 favorites]


Sorry for the other woebegone performers, but I'm relieved that his episodes can't be played. His smarmy voice has made public radio 50% unlistenable for me for years.
posted by Ansible at 10:25 AM on January 24 [9 favorites]


Oh yes, I broke a radio button in a previous car from how hard I would push it to switch stations as soon as the first notes of the PHC theme started.
posted by Flannery Culp at 10:32 AM on January 24 [14 favorites]


(In retrospect, I quit listening more years ago than I thought, and that was after several years of cringing. Man, he's been like this for ever. Ugh.)

The fact that the archived shows were RealAudio files for years longer than anyone could play the .ra format said a lot about the guy's interest in the world outside his own head.
posted by wenestvedt at 10:38 AM on January 24 [3 favorites]


This [untypeable horror] appeared in my head whenever I heard his voice on NPR, and now I bet it'll appear in yours too.
Yes, it indubitably will. And, thanks to another recent post, it'll be accompanied by the Chariots of Fire theme. "The new millennium" continues its strong performance in Worst of All Possible Worlds category.

I'm sorry about that cartalk derail. It's been hard to manage my instinctive first response whenever this happens, every day, seems like, to somebody I like(d), which is disbelief and a few instants of "This time it must be different!" before I force myself to read the pertinents. I had zero trouble with this one, or with Cosby back in the day. I recognized their obvious "backpat gone awry" horseshit as obvious horseshit when their stories first came out, but that's no doubt partly because both of them have infuriated me with truckloads of obvious horseshit for years.

What's new and horrifying is that there has been such a lot of these stories about people I used to really admire and that I absolutely did not expect it from that I think it's making me callous in a way I used not to be, and it's freaking me out a little. Louis CK was very painful, and Al Franken was nothing short of agony. Pain and agony seem like a normal, rational response to an extraordinary betrayal. But the betrayals are ordinary anymore!

After Al Franken there were a couple dozen more, and finally with Aziz Ansari, the "not him!" lasted not even a full second. I had loved his Parks and Rec character and had watched and delighted in all of Master of None. My disbelief prodrome gets less painful and less lengthy each time, and now it's basically gone. Which might sound good, but I think it is perhaps not necessarily a good sign. It doesn't feel to me like I'm "woke," it feels like I'm in a nightmare. I need Lena Waithe, Tig Notaro et al. to rocket to megastardom, and for Diane Rehm to come back like she did last week, but all the time, and Elizabeth Warren to take the executive, and, you know, Tommy and Raymie have a sister and the episodes that featured her were hilarious--just generally for deserving women to occupy the spaces recently vacated. Then I'll feel more lively and awake and ready to face the day, not spend all of it playing "room escape" games.
posted by Don Pepino at 11:02 AM on January 24 [14 favorites]


Nothing has ever been as telling as this anecdote about his attempt to "apologize" for the limerick:
"Keillor would eventually apologize in a handwritten note to the employee who was the subject of the limerick. She no longer works at the store, and said she did not hang onto Keillor's letter. But nearly six years later she recalls that it rang hollow, and that she thought it was patronizing and demeaning.

"The opening line, I do remember, was, 'I'm sorry my limerick made you feel bad,'" she said. "It actually wasn't an apology at all. Then he went on to explain what limericks were.""
"I'm sorry you took offense but it isn't my fault" followed by some patronizing mansplaining about the genre? OF COURSE.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 11:24 AM on January 24 [28 favorites]


I haven't listened to APHC for quite a while. It was someone on MeFi who noted that Keillor had started singing an awful lot more and he's not a great singer. 30 years ago or so when I listened to it pretty often, he was an exceptional storyteller. Sometimes the News From Lake Wobegone was nearly a sermon. An awful lot of people deal poorly with getting power. It exacerbates dominance behaviors. Fame and fortune often bring out the worst in people, and in men, especially, that means sexual assholery and harassment. I don't think we have much understanding of the behavior, other than assholery. Evolving beyond it seems an awfully good idea. So, Gary Keillor, time for you to tell your story with some of that truth and understanding of human nature, time to own up.
posted by theora55 at 11:43 AM on January 24 [1 favorite]


My disbelief prodrome gets less painful and less lengthy each time, and now it's basically gone. Which might sound good, but I think it is perhaps not necessarily a good sign.

Yeah. I in fact was a fan of Keillor's for quite some time; even when his own routines grew stale, he could still come up with the occasional decent bit; I think quite a lot of "Argonne", his reworking of the sea chanty "Lowlands Away", which I heard recently near the centenary of one of the battles there, and lots of other great music besides. Even with the occasional mistake--the "gay marriage" Salon column is the one that sticks out--I thought that he'd made a net positive contribution to American culture. I did the FPP when he left the show.

But, you know, when the oops-my-hand-slipped thing came out, I didn't quite buy it. I remember wanting to, and thinking that the action itself sounded plausible... but then thinking, would anyone sue the guy who practically is Minnesota public radio (if not American public radio, with the possible exception of Ira Glass), over just that? Doubtful. And, of course, it wasn't. Die a hero or live long enough to become the villain, as they say.
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:48 AM on January 24 [9 favorites]


I'm glad they included the testimony of the women that worked with him that never saw problematic behavior.

A couple of reasons: 1 - There can't be a story from these women saying 'my voice was excluded from the story because it didn't fit the narrative that MPR was trying to create with their reporting', 2 - More importantly it shows that just because a person in the workplace/social circle, etc, never engaged in problematic behavior *around you*, doesn't mean that they haven't been engaging in problematic behavior.

I think it's human nature when confronted with the behavior of someone you know to compare that against your experiences of them - and if the two don't match up to initially disbelieve the stories ("that's not the Bob that *I* know"). Indeed, this reaction is why a ton of abusers have defenders (their friends) that come forward with testimonials. It seems obvious that people engaging in problematic behavior wouldn't be doing so all of the time and around witnesses continually. Hopefully narratives like this (a ton of folks with stories of problematic behavior, coupled with a bunch of stories from folks that never saw any problematic behavior) will start to give people the insight that just because they never acted inappropriately around you doesn't mean they are innocent of the charges.

Personally I can't say that I'm shocked by these allegations, although that is probably helped by the fact that I was never a huge PHC fan, as the whole man's schtick seemed to be that of being stuck in nostalgia for the 50's - and that's a nostalgia I really don't trust.
posted by el io at 12:07 PM on January 24 [23 favorites]


Story number #465322905 why you DON'T ENABLE MISSING STAIRS.
posted by odinsdream at 12:18 PM on January 24 [8 favorites]


I disliked Keillor from the beginning and hated him well before the end.

When all the shit started coming out I was surprised mainly that it wasn't worse. Even in memory his voice makes me glare and want to clench my fists.

Innumerable times his insistence on singing along ruined the sets of his musical guests, and the better they were the more determined he seemed to be to spoil their appearances.
posted by jamjam at 1:48 PM on January 24 [10 favorites]


Fuck him, fuck that show and fuck his legacy. Let his name be blotted from Minnesota, replaced by people who deserve it, including some who we should know about but his behavior silenced.
posted by maxsparber at 2:13 PM on January 24 [9 favorites]


Hey, Garrison, I have a limerick for you

There once was fucker named Gary
Fuck that fucker named Gary
Fuck that fuck and
fuck that fuck too
Fuck that fucker named Gary.

Don't understand the limerick? I'd be happy to send you a letter explaining how they work.
posted by maxsparber at 2:23 PM on January 24 [32 favorites]


the whole man's schtick seemed to be that of being stuck in nostalgia for the 50's - and that's a nostalgia I really don't trust.

Spot on. Anyone who tells me that the good old days were better with a straight face, I automatically write them off as a racist, sexist, idiot, or some combination thereof. Because basically, they are saying that life was better when white dudes where in charge and others knew their place.

Which is bullshit.
posted by teleri025 at 3:19 PM on January 24 [14 favorites]


MaxSparber, we could displace him in favor of Kevin Kling!

(...who deserves his own FPP if I could find any material online.)
posted by wenestvedt at 4:24 PM on January 24 [9 favorites]


My family listened to Garrison Keillor when I was growing up. When Monica Lewinsky was first in the news, Keillor said something about how we have to be careful not to overreact to that situation or else dating will be impossible. I had to ask my parents what the Monica situation had to do with dating, and their response was just, "it's nonsense, he doesn't know what he's talking about" since I was too young / they were uncomfortable spelling it out for me. My parents started turning off the monologues and just listening to the music on APHC after that, claiming to be bored. I really didn't put it together until these allegations came out and the memory popped in my mind.

Googling it shows the remarks were at the National Press Club, but I think it was more likely something I heard on his show.
posted by Former Congressional Representative Lenny Lemming at 5:13 PM on January 24 [6 favorites]


I was a huge PHC fan until Keillor decided to quit St. Paul and move the show to NYC in the 80s. Suddenly he was doing his shtick about the place where I lived and it was ... not interesting. Never went back. Sorry to hear he turned out to be such a jerk.
posted by lagomorphius at 5:23 PM on January 24 [4 favorites]


The limerick thing is the detail that makes me feel like I live in a bubble. Like, I don't keep my eyes closed or anything; I'm aware that things go on. I've worked in bro-y atmospheres and I can totally believe that some of my current and former co-workers have done inappropriate things. But of all the places I've worked, I can't imagine anywhere where writing a limerick like that would happen, even if it was just shared on a private Slack conversation. Sharing it in public? Serious WTF. I really can't imagine what that must have been like for that poor woman.

Writing a book called "Inappropriate Behavior" is just another level altogether. There's no excuse for that. Utterly shameless.
posted by kevinbelt at 5:58 PM on January 24 [4 favorites]


After reading his version of events the outcome of this investigation is like the least surprising thing ever. He was clearly not describing things the way an honest man would. It might have worked as the set up for a vaudeville routine:
A: How long are you in for?
B: Life.
A: Wow! What did they get for you?
B: I patted a women on the back a couple times.
A: That doesn't seem that bad, that's it?
B: I did pat her pretty hard.
A: Still?
B: Oh, yeah, also I was holding an axe in my patting hand.
Less flippantly: Men do not fire other men who make them a lot of money for something like he described. They do not do it even with the most uncharitable interpretation of what he said. I was trying to convince someone of this over the holidays--if that incident was the worst incident that actually happened his version would be "I was fired because people made up lies about me that came out of the blue." Because regardless of whether MPR was right or wrong they clearly had been told he did way worse on multiple incidents or there'd be an offer for sensitivity training or something.

So to me it was a self-evidently dishonest statement, with gratuitous dishonesty added in by pretending not to want to hurt MPR and to not be asking for pity after this while offering this self-serving spin specifically crafted to both hurt MPR and evince pity.
posted by mark k at 7:03 PM on January 24 [20 favorites]


I loved Keillor's show when I was a kid and listened to it a lot as an adult. Went to a show once. But about the time the PHC movie came out I went to see him do a reading and he said something salacious about having Lindsay Lohan's breasts (in a marketing photo or something?) used to promote his work. I never forgot that and when the story broke, I believed it.

The description of the PHC office environment reminds me of my one attempt to work in the arts shortly after college. My boss (a woman) was mercurial, a terrible communicator, and abusive. I picked up some bad working habits in the environment (finger pointing, etc) which I had to unlearn later. In comparison, corporate life has been blissful.
posted by bunderful at 8:16 PM on January 24 [2 favorites]


He has a gross clammy hand of a voice, so it doesn’t surprise me that he had gross clammy habits.

I am glad that huge swaths of weekend npr programming are no longer filled with his gross nostalgia shtick, I couldn’t stand it as a kid and it stayed around for decades like a skin lesion.
posted by Dip Flash at 8:36 PM on January 24 [9 favorites]


I became aware of his skeeviness when I was gifted a book of his, The Book of Guys, about 25 years ago. It's a short story collection whose central premise is that Men Today Are Too Soft, henpecked into submission, and need to spend an evening in the woods drinking whiskey around a fire with other men and talking shit about women all night. Page after page of loathsome, bitter, resentful dreck. He really seemed to viscerally despise women. He's been telling us all along, and it would be perfectly fitting if that ends up being his legacy.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 8:53 PM on January 24 [8 favorites]


Garrison Keillor always struck me as a smug asshole who was far too pleased with himself for his middling wit*. I never understood the appeal.

I mean, I'm not happy to learn he's an awful POS**, but I'm not exactly surprised.

*He called his poetry selection "Good Poems" FFS.
**a little vindicated, maybe.

posted by leotrotsky at 9:08 PM on January 24 [2 favorites]


I feel good that I'm not the only one who was super creeped out by his creepy radio presence since forever. It just gives you a feeling in your gut of red flags. This all adds up to me like 2+2.
posted by bleep at 9:27 PM on January 24 [2 favorites]


He really seemed to viscerally despise women.

I never get how you can hate women so bad but so badly want to fuck them.
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:35 PM on January 24 [10 favorites]


I guess if you're understanding of "fuck" is some form of debasement of someone else it fits. Yeesh what a creep.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 9:40 PM on January 24 [3 favorites]


If men hating women kept them from fucking us, the species would have died out long ago.
posted by I'm Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today! at 7:22 AM on January 25 [6 favorites]


Men hate women because they want to fuck them - first, because wanting is vulnerability, second, because sex is intimate and thus intrinsically unmasculine, third, because not always getting what you want is unmasculine, so the idea that women "have" something that men want and have the potential to withhold it is completely unacceptable. That's the price of constituting correctly performed masculinity as invulnerability and unblemished "success". Turning sex into a site of hatred and violence is the only way to reconcile a really deep social and physical desire for sex with toxic masculinity.
posted by Frowner at 7:31 AM on January 25 [26 favorites]


I like this part...

The facts, not mere allegations, were the basis for our decision.

Fuck yeah.
posted by sio42 at 8:46 AM on January 25 [8 favorites]


also as i just posted on fb...

Honestly, how hard can it be to just NOT SEND SEX MSGS? I don't send sex messages ever, it's really easy to NOT DO. Do manphones have a different autocorrect or something?
posted by sio42 at 8:54 AM on January 25 [15 favorites]


"Honestly, how hard can it be to just NOT SEND SEX MSGS? I don't send sex messages ever, it's really easy to NOT DO. Do manphones have a different autocorrect or something?"

Here's a little mental exercise that can be helpful before sending a message: would I be comfortable with the people in the world I would least like reading this message to be reading this message? No? Don't send it. Also known as "would I feel comfortable with this message being on the front page of the New York Times." Even if you don't send out problematic messages to people, it might encourage you to double-check spelling and grammar.
posted by el io at 9:53 AM on January 25 [4 favorites]


My husband was surprised, bordering on shocked, when the news came out. Not disbelieving - he's firmly in the camp of believing women who come forward about creepy experiences, and he's aware that lying doesn't "get them publicity;" it gets them doxxed and attacked. But he was confused and disturbed, much like he was when Bill Cosby was accused, much like when Franken was accused.

I haven't been shocked by any of them. Not even surprised, exactly - just hit with a sad sense of, "oh, damn, him too?"

I have to really stretch to think of guys in the public eye today that I wouldn't believe were creeps in private.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 11:17 AM on January 25 [6 favorites]


That article makes it sound like Keillor was at one point a nice person who turned into a nasty person. Aside from the harassment issues, I remember reading about him starting to do impulsive things like suddenly firing musicians (Butch Thompson?) who had been on the show for ages just because he felt like it.
posted by lagomorphius at 11:33 AM on January 25


I don't think I've ever yelled "no fucking WAY" at my radio with more emphasis than when they got to the part where he wrote a lewd limerick about an employee on a whiteboard in his bookstore and then, when she complained, responded by sending her a letter that said "I'm sorry you were offended" and proceeded to explain to her what limericks are.

This is what got me. I used to frequent Common Good Books before the move over to the Hamline location; even after the move I'd still visit once every few months for reading or events. It's almost certain that I've chatted with the employee Keillor targeted with his limerick.
posted by nathan_teske at 11:52 AM on January 25 [2 favorites]


I've been wishing Macalester would take over Common Good, or Keillor would retire and take his name off it, because it looks like it would fill the hole left by Odegard and Hungry Mind (RIP) but I don't want my money going to him.
posted by Flannery Culp at 12:09 PM on January 25 [7 favorites]


Whine, whine, whine...

From the full statement on his website:
“How to respond to so many untruths in a short space? ...If I am guilty of harassment, then every employee who stole a pencil is guilty of embezzlement. I'm an honest fiction writer and I will tell this story in a novel.”
posted by Flannery Culp at 6:52 AM on January 26


Eric Ringham, Matt Sepic (and possibly more), MPR News: Keillor pushes back on investigation; says one accuser 'enjoyed flirtation'
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:13 AM on January 26


I can remember reading a book of Garrison Keillor's when I was about 12 or 13 - I think it might have been Wobegon Boy. I was shocked and scandalized by his depiction of the main character (aka, Keillor stand-in)'s relationship with the woman he was living with. He didn't seem to like her at all. The whole thing was complaints about picking your nose and the drudgery of American middle-class life. It was so scandalous to me because this was a book about two people who weren't married, who didn't love each other, and yet they were still having sex. I thought that was the most insane and also completely depressing thing I had ever read (NB I was still waiting for marriage at that point, so it seemed extra scandalous to me I think).

As I got older and more cynical, thinking on the book, I came to see those scenes as depictions of the depressingly common state of heterosexual relationships in America. Like, of course everyone hates their spouse and sex is just more boring drudgery. That's really the best we can hope for in life, isn't it?

So, I thought about the book again after I read the MPR FAQ. And now that I am an adult who is married who knows other adults who are married, I feel like, 12-year-old me was right. This is a man who just does not like women, like, as people.
posted by chainsofreedom at 2:50 PM on January 26 [6 favorites]




"I once saw PHC live and Keillor wandered through the crowd and did this long rambling song about oral sex (seriously). It was never broadcast."

you know what, after posting above, I thought to myself: that was almost twenty years ago, maybe I was wrong about the old man, maybe it was Cory Tennis who said that -- but sure as a by-God --

I really did like PHC when I was young. The humor was enjoyable in a dad-joke, long-safe-car-trip-with-your-parents sort of way. Unless Garrison was singing. Even as a kid, I knew Garrison couldn't sing and it was mean to make so many talented musicians play for him. And if it was a song he wrote himself, it was never as funny as it was long.

I was never really tempted to see a live show; I knew there wouldn't be an exit if he got going. But I never would have expected that. (And tell me it wouldn't be hilarious if this kind of thing was broadcast live to all the Nice People who listened to PHC.)
posted by Countess Elena at 3:49 PM on January 26 [1 favorite]


Jeffrey Meitrodt and Neal Justin, Star Tribune: Garrison Keillor's wish to be heard is at the heart of standoff with MPR
Stalled talks with MPR over exit focus on archives, but he wants cash and more.
His wish is to have his life back.
posted by ZeusHumms at 6:20 AM on January 29


His wish is to have his life back.

Funny, because his own statements (linked above) emphasize how many projects he's got in the pipeline, not to mention how, even though he's been "a part of MPR for fifty years", they're "a committee of faceless people who are in a panic" and "Listeners know me far better than MPR management does and they know I’m not abusive." Sounds like he's in pretty good shape! Unless the life that he wants back is the one where he can post a bit of doggerel on the board at the front of his bookstore about how an employee young enough to be his granddaughter gave him a boner and, instead of being fired so quickly and enthusiastically that his ass hits the sidewalk on the opposite side of the street--as anyone else who did the same thing would be--people would just shake their heads, chuckle, and murmur, "Oh, that Garrison, such a scamp."
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:58 AM on January 30 [6 favorites]


Of course that's what he wants back. He wants to be back in the world where he could be an abusive creep and, in his head, people just thought he was a lovable old goofball. His statements make it clear that he thinks that is how a vast majority of people see him, and that it's just a few prissy killjoys and corporate automatons who are getting in the way of what should be the beginning of the best part of his career, him being a grand old man of letters, producing literary classics and being amusingly naughty.

He literally can't understand what is going on. I mean, he could. In his heart, I suspect he knows what's really happening, and has always known, or he wouldn't have immediately tried to control the narrative with bullshit. But he really wishes that he could still delude himself that it was all okay, everybody knows him, everybody knows how important he is, and what is going on, god damn it?
posted by maxsparber at 8:24 AM on January 30 [11 favorites]


What's going on with Keillor's left eye in that Guardian photo?

An image search seems to show that it wasn't just a momentary thing, but also that whatever it is is recent.
posted by jamjam at 3:59 PM on January 30


Keillor seems to hold a big fish in a small pond attitude towards Minnesota. Now he's upset he's no longer receiving the privileges he's due.

And pulling access to the PHC archives should be illegal. The show was funded with taxpayer money, the government should own it. Instead, every adult in America paid for something we can't access because of one jerk. A lot of public broadcasting shows have extensive archives on their websites, and I always assumed that was Corporation for Public Broadcasting requirement.
posted by riruro at 10:39 AM on February 5 [2 favorites]


« Older maybe the real wall was the one through our hearts...   |   “Saffron is much more expensive than cocaine,” Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments