Garrison Keillor Is Also a Liar

[Content Note: Sexual harassment and assault.]

Here is a thing that was true yesterday, is true today, and will be true tomorrow: People who sexually harass and/or assault other people lie about it.

They might lie by denying altogether having done the thing(s) of which they are accused, but, they are equally, if not more, likely to lie about something of which they are accused by minimizing its gravity.

Remember: No one is more intimately familiar with the rape culture, and how to exploit it to their advantage, than someone who wants to commit sexual harassment and/or assault.

And one of the ways they exploit it is avoiding outright denials in favor of conceding that something happened, but that it was either consensual or no big deal, thus framing their accuser as vengeful, oversensitive, mistaken, and/or lying.

All of which the rape culture has already entrained us to believe about accusers. Especially female accusers.

By confessing to something "awkward" or "misunderstood," but by no means criminal, the sexual harasser and/or assaulter positions themself as the honest one — because people inclined to afford them the benefit of the doubt will eagerly believe that a truly guilty person would deny anything happened at all.

Why confess to anything? the people who want to extend good faith to accused abusers will wonder, answering their own question in its very asking.

Which brings me to Garrison Keillor, a textbook case in the dynamic I'm describing.

When Keillor was sacked in November, for unspecified "sexual misconduct," he sent an email to Minneapolis Star Tribune in which he described his offense thus: "I put my hand on a woman's bare back. I meant to pat her back after she told me about her unhappiness and her shirt was open and my hand went up it about six inches. She recoiled. I apologized. I sent her an email of apology later and she replied that she had forgiven me and not to think about it. We were friends. We continued to be friendly right up until her lawyer called."

He was just consoling a friend. It was an accident for which he apologized multiple times. She assured him it was no big deal, until that bitch called an attorney.

That was his version of events. Minnesota Public Radio's investigation has somewhat different findings, ahem.
MPR News has interviewed more than 60 people who worked with or crossed professional paths with Keillor. Most spoke on the condition of anonymity because they still work in the industry or feared repercussions from Keillor or his attorneys.

The revelations create a portrait of Keillor more complicated than that of the folksy, avuncular storyteller whose brand of humor appealed to millions of listeners. They suggest a star who seemed heedless of the power imbalance that gave him an advantage in his relationships with younger women. They also raise questions about whether the company knew enough — or should have known enough — to stop the behavior of the personality who drove much of its success.

...In an interview with MPR News Tuesday afternoon, [Jon McTaggart, president and CEO of MPR and American Public Media Group] said the company's separation of business interests from Keillor came after it received allegations of "dozens" of sexually inappropriate incidents involving Keillor and a woman who worked for him on A Prairie Home Companion. He said the allegations included requests for sexual contact and descriptions of unwanted sexual touching.
The investigation found "a years-long pattern of behavior that left several women who worked for Keillor feeling mistreated, sexualized, or belittled." It did not find that Keillor accidentally put his hand on a woman's bare back and that she is a vindictive hysteric who decided to report him to a company that subsequently fired him for no reason.

Sexual harassers and assaulters lie. That is what they do. And the reason they do it is to recruit their fans or friends or random folks into being their co-conspirators.

Failing to believe victims abets abuse. So does believing abusers when they lie.

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