“Last Week Tonight” host John Oliver changed gears while leading a panel at the Tribeca Institute in New York Monday night in order to address allegations against actor Dustin Hoffman regarding him groping a film intern in the 1980s.
While taking part in a panel discussion on the 20 years since the release of the movie “Wag the Dog,” which starred Hoffman and Robert de Niro, Oliver candidly shifted focus away from the movie and toward Hoffman, who was also sitting in on the panel.
“This is something we’re going to have to talk about because…it’s hanging in the air,” Oliver said.
Oliver then brought up the allegations made against Hoffman, leveled by writer Anna Graham Hunter, who had worked with the actor as a production intern on the set of 1985’s “Death Of A Salesman.”
According to Hunter, Hoffman made unwanted sexual comments toward her, as well as grabbed her buttocks while working with her. Hunter was 17 at the time of the filming.
Addressing Oliver on the panel, Hoffman repeated the defense he’s already made about Hunter, namely that he doesn’t remember her at all.
“I still don’t know who this woman is,” Hoffman said.
He also tried to defend himself by stating that the allegations leveled against him don’t match who he is as a person. But Oliver didn’t accept that as a valid excuse.
“It’s ‘not reflective of who I am,’” Oliver said, repeating a line that many who have been accused of sexual assault have used before. “It’s that kind of response to this stuff that pisses me off.”
The audience seemed split in Oliver’s insistence that this topic be addressed, according to BuzzFeed News' reporting of the event. Some were very supportive of the debate coming up, applauding Oliver’s courageousness in speaking on the allegations against Hoffman, while others seemed bothered by the fact that a panel meant to address the anniversary of a film delved into other topics.
Twitter was also split on the issue, although the top-trending tweets seem to support his actions.
John Oliver is a gold standard male feminist. Men need to be willing to make themselves uncomfortable to truly fight for gender equality.— Lauren Duca (@laurenduca) December 5, 2017
john oliver in that clip doing what all men should be doing with their friends; asking hard questions & holding them accountable— holly robindaughter (@holbolrob) December 5, 2017
“John Oliver totally ambushed Hoffman!”— Cara 🦊🎄⛄️ (@theirishcowgirl) December 5, 2017
Yes, imagine how awful it must be to have someone act inappropriately or unprofessionally and make you feel uncomfortable and attacked when you’re just there to do your job OH WAIT
Even if you've read the story, go to the Post and watch the video. It's INCREDIBLY uncomfortable. And people HAVE to be willing to have uncomfortable conversations. https://t.co/N0LBH1O0QF— Jason Bailey (@jasondashbailey) December 5, 2017
A lot has been said about how uncomfortable Dustin Hoffman was during this. But the crucial point is - so was John Oliver. If a powerful man challenging another is difficult - how much more so for women?https://t.co/KvpLrEUpF6— Kirsty Strickland (@KirstyStricklan) December 5, 2017
Having these types conversations, especially unscripted and unprompted, is exactly what’s needed right now. Oliver was also right to dismiss Hoffman’s excuse — his personal character doesn’t excuse this woman’s accusations against him. Plenty of “good people” have done bad things in the past, and it isn’t a valid defense that should be seen as acceptable in this case.