U.S. radio host Keillor fired over accusation of improper behavior

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[November 30, 2017]  LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - U.S. radio host Garrison Keillor, creator of the long-running folksy variety show "A Prairie Home Companion," has been fired over an accusation of inappropriate behavior, Minnesota Public Radio said on Wednesday.

"Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) is terminating its contracts with Garrison Keillor and his private media companies after learning of allegations of his inappropriate behavior with an individual who worked with him," the organization said in a statement. It gave no details.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported that Keillor told it in an email that the behavior involved him putting his hand on a woman's 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," the Star Tribune quoted Keillor's email as saying. "I sent her an email of apology later and she replied that she had forgiven me and not to think about it."

He said he was "the least physically affectionate person" on his show.

David O'Neill, a Keillor representative, did not respond to a request for comment. Reuters was not able to independently confirm the allegation.

Keillor, 75, is the latest U.S. media personality to lose a job in recent weeks because of misconduct accusations.

NBC said on Wednesday it had fired anchor Matt Lauer from its morning television show "Today" after a female colleague accused him of inappropriate behavior. Lauer has yet to comment on the accusation.

Keillor is best known as the creator of "A Prairie Home Companion," a mixture of gentle comedy sketches, music and social commentary, which he hosted from 1974 to 2016.

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Author and radio personality Garrison Keillor listens to U.S. President Barack Obama speak at a campaign rally in Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S. October 23, 2010. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo

He created a fictional Minnesota town, Lake Wobegon, which featured in the show and in a number of novels he wrote.

MPR said it would end rebroadcasts of that show hosted by Keillor, as well as distribution and broadcast of his shorter "The Writer's Almanac" spots.

MPR said it was notified of the incident last month and retained an outside law firm to conduct an independent investigation.

"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," Jon McTaggart, president of MPR, said in the statement.

Earlier this week, Keillor wrote an opinion piece in The Washington Post defending Democratic U.S. Senator Al Franken from Minnesota, who has apologized after being accused of groping several women.

"This is pure absurdity and the atrocity it leads to is a code of public deadliness. No kidding," Keillor wrote.

(Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Toni Reinhold and Alistair Bell)

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