Published: Wed, December 06, 2017
Science | By Cecil Little

John Oliver questions Dustin Hoffman over groping allegations

John Oliver questions Dustin Hoffman over groping allegations

Early in November, Anna Graham Hunter, a writer in Los Angeles, said Hoffman sexually harassed and groped her on the set of Death of a Salesman, in 1985.

At a panel discussion in NY celebrating the 20th anniversary of the movie Wag the Dog, he took the film's star Dustin Hoffman to task over a past allegation of sexual harassment against the actor.

Last night, Oliver asked Hoffman about this accusation, and the actor "grew visibly uncomfortable", as described by The Washington Post's Steve Zeitchik.

As things began to get more heated between the two on stage, Oliver and others on the panel tried to move the conversation to the anniversary of the film, but Hoffman was still clearly upset that the media, Oliver in particular, had already considered him "an abuser", though he said he never admitted anything.

'It's that kind of response to this stuff that p-- me off, ' Oliver said.

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Oliver bluntly said, "It is reflective of who you were". If it happened and you've given no evidence to show it didn't happen.

"I believe what she wrote, yes", the host replied.

"I'm not the moral arbiter of anything", Oliver said.

"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. "It's hard for me to find a woman unattractive, unless she's angry or down on herself". The exchange, however, marked a rarity in the post-Harvey Weinstein era, which has seen accused harassers generally offer short statements, if they replied at all, about the allegations made against them; very few have engaged in long public conversations about it, and nearly none have sounded as defiant as Hoffman did Monday night.

Oliver dismissed that as insufficient, then cited Hoffman's response at the time of the allegation that his behavior on set was "not reflective of" who Hoffman is.

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The topic was raised about halfway through the hour-long panel, and dominated the rest of the discussion.

"I can't leave certain things unaddressed", Oliver explained during the Q&A, which was captured on video. For the next several minutes, Hoffman continued to undermine his own statement, checking off every box of the Sexual Predator Apologia along the way: "everyone was saying it...the humor of it...that's 40 years ago...it was an overreaction". After a leaden beat, Hoffman replied, "Do you believe the stuff that you read?"

In 1997's Wag the Dog, Hoffman plays a Hollywood producer who helps fabricate a war to cover up a Presidential sex scandal. That leads to me at home later tonight hating myself, asking, 'Why the fuck didn't I say something?

It might be unfair to those precious few men who are truly self-reflective upon being called out, but Hoffman's wilting apology is probably more indicative than aberration in our halls of power.

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