Skip to main content

Garrison Keillor defended Al Franken in his latest column

He said judgement of past actions by modern standards represents "slippery ground."
  • Author:
  • Updated:
    Original:

Less than a day before MPR announced his termination, Garrison Keillor published a column titled, "Al Franken should resign? That's absurd," in the Washington Post.

In it he defends the Minnesota senator from calls to step down after allegations of sexual misconduct. 

He starts by referencing something a pastor friend of his said recently.

"It’s slippery ground, in general, to judge past actions by present standards and with a benefit of hindsight that is, morally, highly questionable," Keillor quotes him as saying.

That line takes on even more significance now that Keillor has exited MPR following allegations of "inappropriate behavior," apparently placing his hand on "the bare back" of a woman who worked with him on A Prairie Home Companion.

Keillor goes into greater detail about viewing the past through modern eyes, writing about the ongoing attempts to wipe the names of controversial figures of history from public spaces.

Here he references the move to rename Lake Calhoun "Bde Maka Ska" because its namesake, John Calhoun, was a historic supporter of the slave trade.

His argument ties in with what he has to say about Franken, who appeared on stage with Keillor as a guest on Prairie Home on several occasions, joking that he should change his name in order to escape the controversy.

He describes the 2006 picture of Franken pretending to grope the breasts of a sleeping Leeann Tweeden – the first woman to accuse Franken of sexual misconduct – as "low comedy." 

"Eleven years later, a talk show host in L.A., she goes public, and there is talk of resignation," he writes. "This is pure absurdity, and the atrocity it leads to is a code of public deadliness. No kidding."

A world without sexual harassment is a world without flirtation

After Keillor's firing was revealed, it didn't take long for the following video of Keillor's appearance on C-Span in 1994 to be shared on social media. Here's an excerpt of his speech.

"When scandal breaks and we get to see the humanity of the great and powerful revealed, naked and dumb, in front of us, there's always a cry for new rules or at least some new awareness to prevent this from ever happening again.

"We should be careful though not to make this world so fine and good that you and I can't enjoy living in it.

"A world in which there is no sexual harassment at all is a world in which there will not be any flirtation.

"A world without thieves at all, will not have entrepreneurs. A government in which there are no sexual connection and favors between politicians and powerful people would be the first in the history of mankind. And a world without fiction would be unbearable for all of us."

Expect there to be more dissection of Keillor's past comments going forward – although he wouldn't agree with it.

Next Up

Melvin Carter

What's in Mayor Melvin Carter's budget proposal?

Here's what the St. Paul mayor is putting his focus on for the upcoming year.

WCCO building

Digital, streaming employees at WCCO-TV vote to unionize

The 15 employees will join on-air talent and producers as members of the SAG-AFTRA union.

unnamed-3

Police arrest man suspected of sexual assault, weapons threat in Eagan

The investigation prompted a SWAT response in an Eagan neighborhood on Tuesday.

covid

Minnesota's COVID-19 update for the week ending Tuesday, August 16

The latest reporting period averaged just under 1,300 new cases per day.

USATSI_12923669

Jason and Carly Zucker sell Edina home for $4.18M

The property was bought in 2020, months after Jason Zucker was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Legacy Lot Random (1 of 6)

Gallery: Luxury living is par for the course here

Cragun’s Golf Resort Communities Offer Stunning Views Along with Resort-Style Living

Screen Shot 2022-08-18 at 8.10.56 AM

Restrictions in place as Emerald Ash Borer found in Sherburne County

The county is now the 36th in the state with a confirmed presence of the invasive insect.

Fire, firefighters

Home that was scene of June standoff engulfed in fire

Authorities arrived to find the home fully ablaze.

Rosland park bridge

Crosstown Hwy. 62 reopens as footage emerges of truck hitting bridge

The westbound lanes were closed in Edina from Tuesday afternoon to Wednesday night.

Screen Shot 2022-08-17 at 8.31.42 PM

Flash flooding as torrential rain hammers Cambridge

Flooding and damage from a non-severe storm Wednesday evening.

Related

Literary festival cancels Garrison Keillor appearance after outcry

Fans of the festival weren't too happy with his booking.

Jimmy Kimmel has his say on Garrison Keillor

Jimmys Kimmel and Fallon made reference to the fired "Prairie Home" host.

Garrison Keillor gets the 'Prairie Home' band back together for Christmas

The former host was fired by MPR in 2017 after allegations of inappropriate behavior.

Another Garrison Keillor event is canceled in Minnesota

He was due to perform at the NorShor Theatre in Duluth.

The feud between MPR and Garrison Keillor intensifies as new details emerge

MPR released more details of the inappropriate conduct allegations leveled at the Prairie Home Companion creator.