Published: Fri, December 08, 2017
Culture | By Henry Herrera

John Oliver Grills an Unsuspecting Dustin Hoffman About Sexual Harassment Allegations

John Oliver Grills an Unsuspecting Dustin Hoffman About Sexual Harassment Allegations

A seemingly innocuous anniversary film screening turned decidedly fraught at New York's 92 Street Y last night, as John Oliver used part of a Wag the Dog panel to press Dustin Hoffman on recent accusations of sexual misconduct - and Hoffman angrily pushed back.

"It's hanging in the air?".

"You take it, 'This is an assaulter, this is a female assaulter, he's admitted it, '" he said, adding he felt like he was "put on display" at the panel meant to be focused on something else. "You have indicted me", Hoffman told the host. It did not manifestly address another claim, by the writer Wendy Riss Gatsiounis, that Hoffman had propositioned her inappropriately in a pitch meeting in 1991.

"I have the utmost respect for women and feel bad that anything I might have done could have put her in an uncomfortable situation", Hoffman said in his apology.

"You've made one statement in print", Oliver asked Hoffman. "I never met her".

Hoffman said "it didn't happen the way she reported it". When Hoffman balked at the host's answer, Oliver countered, "There's no point in her lying".

"It's "not reflective of who I am" - it's that kind of response to this stuff that pisses me off", Oliver said. "It is reflective of who you were". Then there was a period of time for a while when you were creeping around women.

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"I get no pleasure from having this conversation", Oliver said, "But you and I are not the victims here".

The hour-long session ended shortly after, as the two were unable to move past the issue. Importantly, the director of that film immediately came out and, despite knowing he would surely get backlash within the now extremely toxic environment, strongly defended Hoffman, saying that he remembers the situation very differently. The actor asked Oliver if he actually believed Hunter's allegations. He noted that Oliver "wasn't there" at the time the alleged incident, to which Oliver replied: "I'm glad I wasn't".

In October, Hoffman was accused by Anna Graham Hunter of groping and making sexual comments toward her as a 17-year-old intern on the 1985 set of Death of a Salesman.

Hoffman had offered a conditional apology at the time of the allegation, and on Monday he underscored an "if" included in that statement, noting several times that he didn't really believe he had done anything wrong. Why the...didn't I say something?

We need the John Oliver treatment on all sexual harassment "apologies", stat.

The audience watching appeared divided, with many reportedly calling for Oliver to leave the line of questioning and return to discussing the film, while others in the audience seemingly standing up and applauding. "The easy way is not to bring anything up".

"No one stands up to powerful men", Oliver said.

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