John Oliver Digs Into Dustin Hoffman Over Sexual Harassment Allegations During Panel

Last night, December 4, John brought his walking stick into the real world at a Tribeca Institute 20th anniversary panel of the 1997 film, Wag the Dog, where he debated actor Dustin Hoffman over the sexual harassment allegations made against him by Anna Graham-Hunter.

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.

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 hanging in the air?".

"You've made the case better than anyone else can".

One person who has been accused is actor Dustin Hoffman. A second woman, Genius producer Wendy Riss Gatsiounis, then told Variety that the actor propositioned her during a meeting in 1991.

Oliver reflected on the veteran star's response at the time, in which he said in a statement: "I have the utmost respect for women and feel bad for anything I might have done could have put her in an uncomfortable situation, I'm sorry".

As Oliver read further from Hunter's statement, Hoffman asked, "Do you believe this stuff you read?" An increasingly angry Hoffman pointed to his role in Tootsie, in which he dressed as a woman, as evidence of his respect for women.

Despite this background, Oliver seemed to think that he was challenging Weinstein or Bill Cosby and that therefore, regardless of the impropriety of the setting, had both a moral obligation to attack Hoffman, as well as the factual foundation on which to do so. "It is reflective of who you were", Oliver said of Hoffman's statement that this behavior is not who he is. "It is reflective of who you were". There was a period of time when you were creeping around women. It feels like a cop-out to say "it wasn't me".

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Oliver and Hoffman butted heads over the issue for the remainder of the panel.

In a story she wrote for The Hollywood Reporter last month, she alleged Hoffman was flirtatious, grabbed her buttocks and talked about sex in front of her.

"It's not for me to say". Asked why, Oliver said, "Because there's no point in her lying".

"Do you believe this stuff that you read?" Hoffman said at one point that he felt blindsided by the line of questioning.

"I'll watch it", Oliver replied.

"Well, there's a point in her not bringing this up for 40 years", Hoffman said.

"Oh, Dustin. Christ", Oliver said.

I can't leave certain things unaddressed. "The easy way is not to bring anything up".

The fallout has been massive and immediate as some of the most powerful men in Hollywood have lost jobs and credibility. Unfortunately that leaves me at home later at night hating myself.

  • Michelle Webb