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Dustin Hoffman and John Oliver argue about sexual harassment allegations

John Oliver grills Dustin Hoffman
John Oliver grills Dustin Hoffman 01:27

"Last Week Tonight" host John Oliver confronted Dustin Hoffman about the sexual misconduct allegations against him. It happened in front of an audience during a panel discussion in New York on Monday.

Oliver was hosting and moderating a discussion panel on the 20th anniversary of the film "Wag the Dog" — a political spoof in which campaign advisers fabricate a war to cover up a presidential sex scandal — when he decided to address the issue that he said was "hanging in the air." Though the panel also included Robert De Niro, producer Jane Rosenthal and director Barry Levinson, multiple reports say that the argument between Oliver and Hoffman dominated the event.

"It's hanging in the air?" Hoffman responded, reports the Washington Post. "From a few things you've read you've made an incredible assumption about me." Then he said sarcastically, "You've made the case better than anyone else can. I'm guilty."

Oliver was referring to accusations by writer Anna Graham Hunter, who wrote that Hoffman groped her and made inappropriate remarks when she was a teenage intern on a movie set in the 1980s. In her guest column for The Hollywood Reporter, Hunter quoted several diary entries from that time. A second woman, producer Wendy Riss Gatsiounis, later told Variety that Hoffman propositioned her during a 1991 meeting. 

After Hunter's column appeared, Hoffman said, "I have the utmost respect for women and feel terrible that anything I might have done could have put her in an uncomfortable situation. I am sorry. It is not reflective of who I am."

But on Monday, Hoffman took a different tack and said he did not remember Hunter.

"I still don't know who this woman is. I never met her; if I met her it was in concert with other people," he said. 

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Oliver slammed Hoffman's apology and said, "'It's not reflective of who I am' — it's that kind of response to this stuff that pisses me off." 

Oliver continued,  "It is reflective of who you were. If you've given no evidence to show it didn't [happen] then there was a period of time for a while when you were a creeper around women. It feels like a cop-out to say 'it wasn't me.' Do you understand how that feels like a dismissal?"

Instead of talking about the film, the heated conversation remained heavily focused on sexual harassment. 

Oliver said, "There's no point in [an accuser] lying."

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

"Oh, Dustin," Oliver said, putting his head in his hand. 

Oliver said that talking about sexual harassment was not "fun" for him, but he felt obligated to bring it up. He said, "There's an elephant in the room because, this particular incident, a conversation has not been had." 

Rosenthal tried to move on from the argument and said of "Wag the Dog," "It wasn't produced by [Harvey] Weinstein or Miramax … Kevin Spacey wasn't starring in it. Let's look at real sexual criminal predators." Oliver responded that Rosenthal was setting a "low bar." 

Hoffman asked Oliver to keep an "open mind" and that he has an "incredible respect" for women. 

Later, the audience joined in, with one member telling Oliver to "let it go," while others said, "Thank you for believing women."

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