Garrison Keillor fired from MPR over allegations of 'improper behavior'

Garrison Keillor

Garrison Keillor AP/Jeff Baenen

Garrison Keillor -- the iconic former host of A Prairie Home Companion -- has been fired by Minnesota Public Radio, the Associated Press reported Wednesday. 

Keillor, 75, was terminated over "a story that I think is more interesting and more complicated than the version MPR heard," he tells the AP. 

Keillor shared additional details with the Star Tribune, stating in an email:

"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. 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. 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."

He added: 

"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. So this is poetic irony of a high order. But I’m just fine. I had a good long run and am grateful for it and for everything else."

MPR ended its contracts with Keillor after "learning of allegations of his inappropriate behavior with an individual who worked with him" last month, according to a statement released Wednesday. MPR hired a law firm to investigate the claims against Keillor, and discovered no similar allegations among its staff.

The station also announced the following moves: 

-- No more rebroadcasts of Keillor-hosted APHC episodes and The Writer's Almanac, a Keillor-produced program. 

-- APHC will be renamed for newish host Chris Thile, who's currently "in shock."

-- Keillor's online shop, Pretty Good Goods, will be scrubbed from MPR/American Public Media websites. 

"Garrison Keillor has been an important part of the growth and success of MPR, and all of us in the MPR community are saddened by these circumstances," Jon McTaggart, president of MPR, said in the statement. "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 and is necessary to continue to earn the trust of our audiences, employees and supporters of our public service."

Keillor hosted APHC for decades before retiring last year. The Minnesota-born radio personality/author remained at MPR as producer for Writer's Almanac.

On Tuesday, the Washington Post published an opinion piece by Keillor that defends Al Franken, the Minnesota senator who's facing four allegations of sexual misconduct:

" On the flight home, in a spirit of low comedy, Al ogled Miss Tweeden and pretended to grab her and a picture was taken. Eleven years later, a talk show host in LA, she goes public, and there is talk of resignation. This is pure absurdity, and the atrocity it leads to is a code of public deadliness. No kidding."

The Washington Post has since updated that column with a statement about Keillor, saying it "takes allegations of this kind seriously and is seeking more information about them."