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John Oliver Breaks Silence on Confronting Dustin Hoffman Over Sexual Harassment: ‘It Felt Unavoidable’

Oliver says he warned the event's organizers that if he was hired to moderate a panel featuring Hoffman he would have to ask him the tough questions.

Several weeks after he made headlines for publicly confronting Dustin Hoffman over allegations of sexual harassment and abuse, John Oliver is finally breaking his silence on the matter. Oliver asked Hoffman about the accusations while moderating a panel in New York City on December 4 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Barry Levinson’s “Wag the Dog.” Panelists included Levinson, Hoffman, Robert De Niro, and producer Jane Rosenthal.

Oliver told Hoffman that the allegations against him were “hanging in the air” and that they would be “something we’re going to have to talk about.” The two engaged in an intense back and forth, with Oliver pressing Hoffman on the allegations and Hoffman firing back that Oliver was “making assumptions” about him. While some praised Oliver for confronting Hoffman, others found it unprofessional to do so in a public setting.

“It felt unavoidable and that we had to have a discussion about it,” Oliver said about the conversation during an interview on Sky One’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.”

Oliver admitted that the conversation between the two “didn’t really go anywhere constructive” and ultimately made him “feel sad.” Hoffman refused to talk about the allegations despite Oliver’s insistence, telling the late night host that he “put him on display” and “indicted him” without any evidence. “That’s not innocent until proven guilty,” Hoffman said.

According to Oliver, the event’s organizers were aware that he would be questioning Hoffman on the allegations. Oliver told “The Russell Howard Hour” that he made sure to tell the organizers that the allegations would be an unavoidable talking point if they were to hire him as moderator. He even told them to go with someone else if they thought asking Hoffman about his history would be problematic.

“I had spoken to the organizers of this event twice before when it was clear he might be there,” Oliver said. “I said, ‘If he is going to be there, I have to ask him about this. 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, we want you to do it.’ Then when he confirmed, I said, ‘I am going to ask him.’ So it was a collision course was set at that point.”

Prior to the event on December 4, Hoffman had been accused of sexual misconduct by television producer and writer Wendy Riss Gatsiounis (“Reign,” “Genius”) and Anna Graham Hunter, who alleges Hoffman groped her and made inappropriate comments to her when she was a 17-year-old intern on the set of the 1985 TV movie “Death Of A Salesman.” Since then, three more women have come forward to accuse the actor. The most recent allegations claim Hoffman exposed himself to a 16-year-old and assaulted two women during the making of “Ishtar.”

Hoffman has repeatedly denied the accusations against him.

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