Minnesota Public Radio disappears everything Garrison Keillor ever did . . . like it was never there

By —— Bio and Archives--December 11, 2017

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Minnesota Public Radio disappears everything Garrison Keillor ever did . . . like it was never there
This is now taking on the characteristics of a moral panic. It’s no longer enough to just fire or otherwise disassociate yourself with the sexual harasser. You now have to try to pretend you never had anything to do with him, even if he the person most associated with your organization for decades.

So it is with Minnesota Public Radio and Garrison Keillor, who has been MPR’s most recognizable face and voice forever. Wait. Check that. Who’s Garrison Keillor? MPR has never heard of anyone by that name!

Garrison Keillor has been disappeared into the Memory Hole. If you look for his biography or the archived shows from a half century of “A Prairie Home Companion” on the website of Minnesota Public Radio since his fall from grace, you’ll now find only this: “Sorry, but there’s no page here.”

Keillor and his entire body of work from “A Prairie Home Companion” and “Writer’s Almanac” have been effectively erased from the archives of MPR, along with the work of all the other storytellers, singers, poets and production staff who made the shows successful.

In these tumultuous days of unceasing revelations of sexual scandals in media, politics and business, media enterprises especially face a new ethical challenge with their fallen stars: What do you do with history and art?

Keillor allegedly crossed the line for inappropriate sexual behavior, though we actually don’t yet know what that line is since we’ve only heard Keillor’s side of the story. But MPR’s response is also over the line.

They eliminated everything associated with Keillor. This evokes Orwell’s “1984” and the Memory Hole where unwanted or inconvenient history, documents and stories are regularly incinerated.

When you fire a person from your company or they quit, you take their bio off your web site. That’s understandable. To do otherwise would be to mislead others into thinking he still works there.

But it’s another thing entirely to try to reconstitute your history to make it look like he never worked there in the first place. That’s what MPR seems to be attempting with Keillor, which is astonishing when you consider that “A Prairie Home Companion” and “Writer’s Almanac” were signature works of MPR. It’s like NBC trying to pretend it never aired Seinfeld, or Fox denying any knowledge of The Simpsons.

Speaking of Simpsons, consider the example of the Buffalo Bills. Their all-time leading rusher is none other than O.J. Simpson, who is believed by most people to have things far worse than whatever Garrison Keillor is accused of. Yet Simpson’s name and number are on the Bills’ Wall of Fame and his name is all over the team’s record books. How could they not be? The years he played for them happened, and his records stand. Regardless of what he may have done wrong later in life, there’s no changing that, and it would be absurd to try to scrub the team’s history of all this and pretend it didn’t happen.

That’s essentially what MPR is trying to do with Keillor. It’s as if they think they’ll be guilty by association of his worst personal behavior if they acknowledge he ever had anything to do with them.

That sort of fear is what you get with a moral panic, and that’s what this whole sexual harassment thing is starting to turn into. I don’t want to minimize the wrongness of the behavior at all, but those who’ve been outed for behaving this way are being treated like we found out they were Nazi death camp guards. Boorish men who treat women badly deserve to pay a price, and depending on the severity of the crime, I have no trouble with the idea that you might lose your job. From what we know of the Harvey Weinstein and Matt Lauer situations, that seems like the least that should have happened to them.

But like it or not, you can’t alter history. You can’t scrub Kevin Spacey from the first five seasons of House of Cards. You can’t destroy the decades of Today Show archives that feature Matt Lauer (although no one would be any worse off if the entire history of the Today Show disappeared, along with its present offerings). And Minnesota Public Radio can’t erase from existence its longtime association with Garrison Keillor. They can end the association, and they have, but it’s part of their history and their legacy whether they like it or not.

Trying to pretend otherwise makes them look more guilty, and more stupid, than if they’d just acknowlege all of it and look toward the future.


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Dan Calabrese -- Bio and Archives | Comments

Dan Calabrese’s column is distributed by HermanCain.com, which can be found at HermanCain.com

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