John Oliver and Dustin Hoffman got into a heated exchange regarding the sexual harassment allegations leveled at the actor during a panel discussion Monday night at a benefit event for the Tribeca Film Institute.
Oliver was moderating a pre-screening panel discussion about the 20th anniversary of the film “Wag the Dog” when he asked Hoffman about allegations that he groped a 17-year-old intern on the set of a 1985 movie. Hoffman issued an apology after writer Anna Graham Hunter came forward with the allegations last month in an essay for The Hollywood Reporter.
“I have the utmost respect for women and feel terrible that anything I might have done could have put her in an uncomfortable situation,” Hoffman said at the time. “I am sorry. It is not reflective of who I am.”
According to video captured by The Washington Post’s Steven Zeitchik, Oliver told Hoffman that his apology in response to the allegation seemed dismissive and like a “cop out.”
“I’m not the moral arbiter of anything,” Oliver said before quoting Hoffman’s apology. ”‘It’s not reflective of who I am.’ It’s that kind of response to this stuff that pisses me off because it is reflective of who you were if it happened and you’ve given no evidence to show that it didn’t happen. Then there was a period of time for awhile when you were creeping around women.”
The testy exchange went on for about 15 minutes, according to journalists in the audience. Oliver moved the conversation to another topic, but Hoffman returned to the discussion, which set off another 15-minute argument.
Hoffman reportedly said he felt ambushed by Oliver’s line of questioning, but the HBO host said he needed to address the allegations.
“I can’t leave certain things unaddressed,” Oliver said, according to Deadline. “That leads to me at home later tonight hating myself, asking, ‘Why the fuck didn’t I say something? No one stands up to powerful men.’”