Neither Minnesota Public Radio nor its parent company, American Public Media Group, has commented publicly about their decision to cut ties with former “Prairie Home Companion” host Garrison Keillor over allegations of improper conduct.
But on Wednesday, according to MPR news, Jon McTaggart, CEO of American Public Media, held an off-the-record meeting with employees in which he said there were “multiple allegations” against Keillor over an extended period. Reporters from MPR did not attend the meeting, but reported on it via colleagues who were there.
A week ago, MPR said it had received just one formal complaint from one person, although it did say there were “multiple allegations.”
American Public Media spokeswoman Angie Andresen said the company did not plan to issue a statement about Wednesday’s staff meeting, said MPR news.
The report said McTaggart told employees that he alone made the decision to fire Keillor.
Management’s refusal to discuss the Keillor termination with MPR or other reporters contrasts markedly with extensive on-air reporting this week by another public radio station. The nationally syndicated “Takeaway” program on WNYC in New York has devoted much airtime over several days to covering sexual harassment allegations against the show’s longtime former host, John Hockenberry.
Keillor has communicated via e-mail and spoken in public appearances in the past week. He said in an e-mail to the Star Tribune last week that he put his hand on a woman’s bare back “after she told me about her unhappiness and her shirt was open and my hand went up it about six inches. She recoiled.”
Keillor said in the e-mail that he sent the woman an apology e-mail and “We continued to be friendly right up until her lawyer called.”
MPR has declined to offer any other version of events or make anyone available for interviews.
Keillor told the Associated Press in an email Wednesday that he was not at the meeting hosted by McTaggart, so he couldn't provide details of what was said. But he expressed disappointment at the company's response to the allegations.
"I expect to deal with MPR soon to try to fix the enormous mistake they have made by not conducting a full and fair investigation," he said.
Keillor's attorney emailed a statement at AP early Thursday stressing that they know of allegations made by "one individual."
"We trust that Mr. McTaggart will set the record straight in this respect to avoid any misperceptions on that point," Eric Nilsson said in the statement.
Keillor wants a swift resolution of the matter and "with it expects a full restoration of his reputation," Nilsson said.
The MPR report Wednesday said McTaggart admitted that he and other company officials had heard criticism from MPR listeners about terminating Keillor. In an e-mail to MPR on Wednesday afternoon, Andresen said about 660 people have canceled their memberships since the Keillor news broke. The membership base is about 133,000, she said.
She said about 230 people have become members or increased their donations “because of this decision.”
-- The Associated Press contributed to this report.