Whipping Post Politics
Charlie Rose skulked offstage like a punch-drunk palooka with barely a whimper, and Matt Lauer offered up the now laughably pro forma press release of bathetic apology and contrition - no doubt micro-managed by his attorneys. But the hit on Garrison Keilor by his old friend Minnesota Public Radio seemed like a new low in the whipping-post politics of the moment.
Unlike the cases of Rose, Lauer, Louis CK, Harvey Weinstein, and Kevin Spacey, there seemed next to nothing in the case against Keilor. He says he placed his hand on a lady’s bare back, someone on the crew or cast or a guest on The Prairie Home Companion radio show he hosted for close to forty years. Maybe MinnPR has a file full of complaints against the old trooper, but if so they’ve released nothing, no details whatsoever, and unlike the previously “outed” line-up, in Keilor’s case no other “victims” have come forward on their own to establish anything like a pattern of truly bad behavior.
I happen to admire Keilor’s substantial body of work in print and radio, and the public persona he presented, which portrayed a lot of what was honorable, intelligent, charming, and funny in our national character, something we need to be reminded of in this new era of pervasive racketeering, affronts to the first amendment, ubiquitous porno-culture, and Deep State mischief. This may amaze some of you, but to me Keilor deserves to be ranked with Mark Twain as a literary icon. What he gave to his large radio audience over a very long run was of uniformly high quality — something manifestly absent in so many other areas of contemporary life and art.