Perhaps others are as appalled as I am over the ways in which board members of Minnesota Public Radio and American Public Media handled Garrison Keillor’s situation.
The first words that came to mind were “book burning,” which took place decades ago in other countries. In addition to demeaning a man who has entertained America for nearly 50 years, the name of his show was eliminated, his personal appearances canceled, as well as his editorial columns. And, will they pull his older shows from the archives and “burn” them as well? One might stand a better chance going through the court system, where at least one has his or her day in court before being sentenced.
Are these unintended consequences? I believe we are on a scary, slippery path. Let your voices be heard.
Nan P. Lightner, St. Paul
My wife and I have been Minnesota Public Radio listeners and supporters for decades. In recent years we’ve typically made a year-end contribution of $250. We decline the tote bag.
But not this year. This year MPR will get nothing from us. That’s because we object so strongly to the despicable way it has not only dismissed Garrison Keillor, but also erased him and the programming associated with him from MPR and its archives.
But wait, MPR executives are probably thinking: You don’t know the whole story! Well, here’s what I know: Whatever Keillor did, it didn’t even rise to the level of a police questioning, let alone an official police investigation, charges or a conviction.
And in its attempt to scrub Keillor from its institutional and our personal memories, MPR and American Public Media have revealed their true characters: Keillor is bad but mostly he’s bad for business. In their haste, however, to change the name of “A Prairie Home Companion,” MPR and APM have gracelessly tarnished the hundreds of performers and stagehands who have appeared and worked on the show, respectively. What had been until a few days ago a premier artistic credit is suddenly so bad APHC’s very name had to be excised, Stalin-like, from existence.
Keep in mind, we’re not “Prairie Home” superfans. We’ve seen perhaps seven or eight APHC shows over the last 20 years. In the last few years, however, we felt, like many, that Garrison Keillor had overstayed his welcome. And after seeing a Chris Thile-led show a year ago, we were pleased that APHC had been re-invigorated.
But we’re not really talking about artistic merit here. We’re talking about a process and an exit that reflected the benefit of the doubt earned from 40 years of good work and goodwill, not one that involved a stake and a bonfire.
We’re not going to be sending MPR any money this year. We’ll be sending a copy of this letter instead. Perhaps MPR will get a tote bag’s worth of similar letters — enough for it to reflect on its own disgrace.
Barry Randall, St. Paul
The Dec. 3 Pioneer Press states that ABC News has disciplined an investigative reporter for mistakenly reporting that an (unnamed) source told him that President Trump had directed Michael Flynn to contact “the Russians” prior to Trump’s election (“ABC suspends reporter for ‘serious’ error in Flynn story”). Allegedly, the unnamed source had actually told the reporter that Trump had asked Flynn to contact the Russians after Trump’s election. ABC News eventually characterized the original report as a “serious error.”
We are primarily responsible for the growing number of “serious errors” of that kind. Whatever your favorite brand of political poison, please consider adopting the firm rule to believe that whenever you hear or read a “report” anywhere from anyone based upon an “unidentified or unattributed source” or an “anonymous allegation” that you are very likely being fed mistaken or false information or lies. If somebody refuses to identify their source or if a source refuses to be identified, then they have no right to be taken seriously. The source is mistaken. The source is being erroneously reported. The source is lying. There is no source. If we stop gobbling up this garbage, eventually they will stop bringing it to the table.
Len Glewwe, West St. Paul
Tens of millions of unemployed citizens and far more who are under-employed barely making ends meet are being ignored by the political establishment and major media. Millions who have given up looking for work because none is available aren’t even counted as unemployed. Small business (our economy’s true backbone) is disintegrating.
Unfortunately, a majority of working-age citizens seem to care little about having enough economic opportunity to earn prosperity by finding a decent job because many accept financial dependence on government since taxpayers pay the bill.
So despite any tax reforms, to get re-elected, politicians will continue to put overwhelming debt onto taxpayers to subsidize many constituents and costly programs and this — plus millions of good jobs outsourced to other countries, lack of growth of millions of good jobs in our own country and flooding our country with foreign workers — will keep dragging the middle class and our economy down no matter how much the stock “market” is manipulated upward to enrich a minority and front the illusion that everything is “fine.”
Loyalty to our political establishment (Republicans and Democrats controlled by special interests at taxpayer expense) is financially undermining many citizens and businesses — and will have devastating consequences.
Thomas Sims, St. Paul