Literary festival in Vermont cancels Garrison Keillor appearance after outcry

Fans of the festival weren't too happy with his booking.
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A planned appearance by Garrison Keillor at a book festival fundraiser in Vermont has been canceled after an outcry from supporters.

The former "A Prairie Home Companion" host had agreed to appear free of charge at a fundraiser for the Burlington Book Festival this month.

But the festival canceled his invite after backlash from supporters unhappy at Keillor's involvement in the wake of his firing from Minnesota Public Radio last year after being accused of inappropriate behavior.

Speaking to Vermont Public Radio, the festival's founding director, Rick Kisonak, said the cancelation came after "unexpected reaction on social media" in which it became apparent "some people viewed his booking as our condoning of sexual harassment."

"Nothing could be further from the truth," he added.

Kisonak's comment comes after he initially defended the decision to book Keillor in a post on the festival's Facebook page on Sunday.

"Having admired his remarkable work for decades and closely followed events connected to him over the past year, I felt his generous offer afforded, among other things, the opportunity for a conversation that could not possibly be more important or timely."

"It has come as a considerable shock that some have been so quick and careless in conflating his recent history with that of people like Bill Cosby and Harvey Weinstein," he added.

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"Garrison Keillor is not a sexual predator. We’re all people who place great importance on the value of words. Can we agree that the difference between ‘predatory’ and ‘inappropriate’ is considerable and significant?"

There were more than two dozen responses to this post, among them one commenter saying: "What an incredibly tone deaf response to legitimate concerns."

"By continuing to support Keillor, you are sullying the festival's reputation," another wrote. "Your decision about this will affect not just this year's festival. We will remember your attitude next year. And the year after. And the year after that..."

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