A low-key 20th Anniversary panel discussion about the movie Wag the Dog became heated on Monday, December 4th, when host John Oliver grilled Dustin Hoffman about the sexual misconduct allegations against him.
On November 1st, 2017, a woman named Anna Graham Hunter came forward with accusations that Hoffman had groped her when she was a 17-year-old production assistant on the set of the 1985 TV movie Death of a Salesman. Her Hollywood Reporter piece documents countless incidents of Hoffman directing lewd and sexual comments at her, a request for a massage, and unwanted touching. Hoffman responded to the allegations with, “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.”
Those in the audience noted that Hoffman grew “visibly uncomfortable,” and that there was a palpable shift in the room. Hoffman then reportedly said,
Hoffman went on to say he didn’t even recall ever meeting his accuser, and is still not convinced the events took place.
Oliver pointed out that Hoffman’s response “doesn’t seem self-reflective in the way the situation demands,” and Hoffman eventually implied that Oliver — as well as the rest of us — shouldn’t believe everything we read. He also then questioned why an accuser would stay silent for 40 years, seemingly implying that the length of time raised questions about the validity of her claims.
While some in the audience loudly asked Oliver to move the conversation away from sexual misconduct, others shouted, “Thank you for believing women!” which was reportedly met with cheers.
We can’t say this enough: Women who come forward with claims of sexual assault or harassment often have much more to lose than to gain by raising their voices. They’re publicly shamed, scrutinized, and questioned, and it is usually a trying and traumatic process. They are brave to come forward and to hold powerful men accountable, and they must be heard and believed.
We applaud Oliver for taking Hoffman — a celebrated and respected actor — to task for his past actions. Women and all victims need allies in this fight.