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Garrison Keillor Festival Appearance Cancelled Over Me-Too

October 2, 2018

A scheduled appearance by former radio host Garrison Keillor at a fund-raising event for a book festival in Vermont was canceled after expressions of outrage over Keillor’s past treatment of women who worked for his show A Prairie Home Companion.

Keillor, 76, has been accused of acting in a sexually suggestive manner around female employees while he was worked for Minnesota Public Radio. He has denied wrongdoing.

Keillor retired from the show in July 2016.

The executive director for the Burlington Book Festival, Rick Kisonak, defended Keillor’s expected appearance on Sunday, but on Monday he decided to pull the plug, according to Seven Days.

On Sunday he wrote on Facebook:

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. 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?

I have never invited a sexual predator to the Burlington Book Festival and never would. I don’t condone the inappropriate treatment of women. Never for a minute was it my intention to be insensitive to survivors of sexual mistreatment or abuse. Other than responsibly generating revenue for my nonprofit organization, my only interests were in providing Garrison Keillor’s fans with the opportunity to see him while, at the same time, hopefully opening the channel for a conversation with the potential to illuminate, investigate and possibly even heal.

Some of you are demanding I cancel this benefit. Others have expressed support. Here’s what I’m asking all of you on both sides of the issue: As Garrison Keillor, a man who has devoted his life to literature and made incalculable contributions, is not (as some of you allege) a sexual predator and as the matter is more nuanced, please look into all this a bit further and let me know what you believe would be fair.

On Monday, he told Seven Days:

“There’s a lot of very positive feeling for [Keillor] out there. But there’s a lot of anger and a lot of hurt, and I certainly didn’t want that, and certainly didn’t expect that. And now that that really has sort of reached the kind of critical mass that it has … we’re certainly not people that are insensitive to these issues.”

Keillor was planning to travel to Burlington at his own expense for no money in order to help the festival, Kisonak said.

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