John Oliver ‘felt sad’ about challenging Dustin Hoffman on his history of harassment


Earlier this month, Dustin Hoffman participated in a panel discussion in celebration of the 20th anniversary of the film Wag the Dog. The panel discussion was hosted by John Oliver. The event came just a few weeks after several of Hoffman’s victims came forward as part of the fall and winter of #MeToo – Hoffman had been outed as a serial sexual harasser and predator, a man with a long history of treating coworkers and other women quite terribly. John Oliver brought it up and questioned Hoffman directly about his victims. Hoffman acted like an utter a–hole about it, even denying that he’d ever met those victims. After that moment, several other women came forward with their stories and yes, Dustin Hoffman is a sexual predator. Well, John Oliver went home to England and he appeared on a friend’s talk show. His friend asked him about the Hoffman stuff and Oliver’s reaction was good.

Depending on whom you ask, John Oliver was either a hero or a quintessential British villain when he grilled Dustin Hoffman about his long-standing sexual-harassment allegations at a 20th anniversary screening of Wag the Dog earlier this month. “It’s that part of the response to this stuff that pisses me off. It is reflective of who you were,” Oliver said when Hoffman deflected his questions. “You’ve given no evidence to show that it didn’t happen. There was a period of time when you were creeping around women. It feels like a cop-out to say, ‘Well, this isn’t me.’ Do you understand how that feels like a dismissal?” Now, Oliver is expressing a bit of regret about how he handled his moderator duties at the panel, saying that he ultimately “tried and failed” to instigate a meaningful conversation with the actor.

“It felt unavoidable and that we had to have a discussion about it,” Oliver explained on Britain’s The Russell Howard Hour. “It wasn’t ideal, but it became such a big story. But it became about my questions rather than his answers. The questions weren’t particularly remarkable, but his answers were … not great. That was the point of it. But it didn’t really go anywhere constructive, so the whole thing just made me feel sad.”

Oliver also said that once he signed on to moderate the panel, he told the event organizers that he was going to discuss the allegations with Hoffman, which they agreed to. “‘I understand you might not want your event to be about this, so you might want to get someone else,’ and they said, ‘No, no, no, we want you to do it,’” Oliver continued. “Then when [Hoffman] confirmed, I said, ‘I am going to ask him.’ So it was — a collision course was set at that point.” Three women have come forward to accuse Hoffman of sexual harassment this month, choosing to publicly discuss their experiences with NBC News.

[From Vulture]

I watched the interview (below) and I don’t think Oliver came across as apologetic or regretful at all. He says that he didn’t have the kind of discussion he wanted to have about sexual harassment and abuse with Hoffman, but he was glad he brought it up. Maybe his regret is that HE became the story rather than Hoffman, although I don’t think that was the case in the long run. In the short-term, people were like “OMG John Oliver was being mean to Hoffman,” but long-term, Hoffman has been outed as a predator and John Oliver didn’t suck up to him, so… there was never going to be a happy ending anyway.

Here’s the whole interview, which I’m posting because I love Peak Brit. It’s also NSFW because of language. The whole interview is worth a watch, but if you skip ahead to the 9:40 mark, you’ll see the Hoffman part of the interview.


Photos courtesy of Backgrid.

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20 Responses to “John Oliver ‘felt sad’ about challenging Dustin Hoffman on his history of harassment”

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  1. Whoopsy Daisy says:

    You should watch the whole show! Russell Howard is a great comedian, he gets criticised for being very light, but his new show does cover politics quite a lot. And he’s also really lovely.

    And I’m really impressed with Oliver. He seemed to be one of the rare big celebrities willing to adress this issue before it became safe for everyone to comment on it.

  2. AnotherDirtyMartini says:

    I don’t care if he was mean to DH. Hoffman deserves it – total a-hole.

  3. Esmom says:

    I don’t think there was anyone who could have handled the situation better than Oliver did and I can see why he’s sad. It is sad that he couldn’t lead the discussion anywhere meaningful and it’s pathetic that he was somehow painted as a villain for trying to do so.

    And Hoffman can’t even say he was caught off guard since they agreed to discuss it in advance! He had every opportunity to formulate a decent response, even if it wasn’t genuine, and he couldn’t even be bothered. It’s more than sad, it’s rage inducing.

  4. Nic says:

    He has more journalistic integrity than whole news organizations I could name.

  5. Peeking in says:

    Oh my gosh! This was such an entertaining interview. Thanks, Kaiser.

  6. Izzy says:

    John Oliver has nothing to regret. He absolutely should have brought it up, and if Dustin Hoffman really thought he could or should be at a public event, where he has to answer questions, and not have to address this, then he is Delusional Hoffman.

  7. Chaine says:

    Maybe he feels it was not constructive but after all the publicity about it more women came forward with more allegations about Hoffman, making it even more clear that, yes, he was a serial predator. So from that perspective, to me, even if the interview was not satisfactory, the effects were.

  8. Who ARE These People? says:

    I was glad Oliver had the nerve to confront Hoffman and expose him even more as the arrogant s–t that many of us long thought he was.

  9. Janet R says:

    I adore John Oliver! I get my TV the old-fashioned way – antenna on the roof – so I am always scouring you tube for his show. He handled a difficult situation without being the least jerky about it. Hoffman,now…..

  10. Aren says:

    There was no other possible outcome though. Oliver, or any other person, was going to look like the attacker of a poor “innocent until proven guilty” actor.
    Unless Hoffman had accepted right there and then that he was a rapist (for introducing his fingers in the vagina of his co-star while she couldn’t consent), nothing else was going to make the situation seem fair.

  11. Deets says:

    Hoffman is a rapist. He proudly told the story to Playboy, so he’s an unrepentant rapist too.

    Whereas John Oliver is a hero.

  12. Lisa says:

    Dustin is a rapist. I hate typing that, and it is sad when people you like or admire in some way are outed as predators. I think Oliver handled that well.

  13. Mrs.Krabapple says:

    I’, glad he asked Hoffman about it. But his “you can’t prove it didn’t happen” is a terrible way to address the issue, and gives fuel to people who argue this is all a witch hunt. Legitimate questions are great, and he should have probed more about evasive answers, etc. But please don’t think “you can’t prove it didn’t happen” is a way to support women.

    • Domino says:

      It is another way of saying, “I believe women.” For centuries men have said women lied about assault and harassment because they wanted fame or money, and these women, accusing Dustin Hoffman decades after the fact, clearly want neither.

      Also it is nice for women it is a man confronting another man about assault. Maybe Oliver misspoke – maybe the better question would have been, “why would this women come out after the fact, decades later, with letters detailing her misery at the hands of your harassment – what would she have to gain from that?”

      But the thing is, people who do not want to believe women never will. Because there is no perfect victim. If Hoffman wants to smear his victims, he can, Weinstein style. But it is a good start for men to see an example set a that it is men who need to hold other men responsible.

  14. monette says:

    I think he thinks he could have done better. That’s why he is sad. I think Oliver thinks that if maybe he had asked other questions or differently that maybe the asshole would have admited what he did and repent.
    I criticize myself for stuff like this all the time. Maybe if I weren’t this aggresive or had formulated things differently, maybe she/he would come to the light.
    But, Oliver darling, it’s not our fault if they don’t.