Comedian confronts Dustin over harassment

During a panel discussion for the 20th anniversary of the film Wag the Dog, Last Week Tonight host John Oliver took actor Dustin Hoffman to task for statements he has made regarding recent claims of sexual harassment made against him.

The clash started when Oliver brought up the current sexual scandals in Hollywood. In a six-minute (edited) video taken by a journalist who was attending the panel discussion, Hoffman is seen asking Oliver if he actually believed "the stuff you're reading" and questioning why Graham Hunter hadn't come forward with her story in over three decades - something that earned him an "Oh, Dustin" and an exasperated sigh from Oliver.

Hoffman sat down for a panel discussion in NY ahead of the 20th anniversary screening of his movie Wag the Dog alongside co-star Robert De Niro, producer Jane Rosenthal and director Barry Levinson on Monday, and host Oliver made sure to bring up the allegation.

"I don't love that answer either", Oliver said, to which Hoffman replied, "What response do you want?" and Oliver, explained, "It doesn't feel self-reflective in the way it seems the incident demands". I am sorry. It is not reflective of who I am.

But Oliver wanted to continue with the subject.

Steven Zeitchik in The Washington post mentioned "All hell has now broken loose on this Wag The Dog panel". From a few things you've read, you've made an incredible assumption about me.

There's a misperception out there that if you're not offended by something, then no one else should be, either. "Does that feel like enough to you?"

"First of all, it didn't happen, the way she reported".

Perhaps what is the most ironic part of all of this is that Dustin Hoffman starred in Sydney Pollack's Tootsie (1982), which involved him living in drag and portrayed what it was to be a woman in the entertainment industry.

"I believe what she wrote, yes". Nothing. And she was very upset and she turned and said don't you ever do that to me again. That person was drowned out by others, including one who said, "Shame on you". "Then there was a period of time for awhile when you were creeping around women". "So it feels like a cop-out to say, 'Well, this isn't me.' Do you understand how that feels like a dismissal?" He was openly flirtatious, he grabbed my ass, he talked about sex to me and in front of me. Hoffman said to Oliver.

Hoffman asked Oliver replied: "Yes".

Hoffman asked, "Why?" Oliver said, "Because there's no point in her lying".

"I can't leave certain things unaddressed", Oliver said, according to Deadline. "The easy way is not to bring anything up. Unfortunately, that leaves me at home later at night hating myself, [asking, ] 'Why the f*** didn't I say something?' No one stands up to powerful men".

Bravo to John Oliver for carrying a light. Men need to be willing to make themselves uncomfortable to truly fight for gender equality. If you don't think that calling someone "Pocahontas" is a racial slur, for example, then it's not - even if Native Americans say it is.

Right. There's no reason for her to lie about it, but there sure is a reason for Hoffman and others to call her a liar, isn't there? This is where the accountability becomes truly important, and makes a difference.

Vanessa Coleman

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