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John Oliver on Dustin Hoffman Confrontation: “I Tried and I Failed”

John Oliver spoke with Sky One’s Russell Howard last week, and the conversation included some talk about Oliver’s contentious panel discussion with Dustin Hoffman from earlier this month. Hoffman did not appreciate Oliver bringing up accusations of sexual misconduct during an event meant to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Wag the Dog, and Oliver said on The Russell Howard Hour that he believed the topic was “unavoidable,” but that he ultimately failed to do anything “constructive” with the conversation.

“I felt it was unavoidable…I said [to the organizers], ‘If he’s gonna be there, I have to ask him about this,'” Oliver explained. “‘So, I understand you might not want your event to be about this, so you might want to get someone else.’ They said ‘No, no, no’ we’d like you to do it’…I felt like I had to bring it up. I knew the stories were out there, and I heard there were a few more coming, so it felt unavoidable that we had to have a discussion about it.”

Since that December 4 panel, several more accusations against Hoffman did come out, including one woman who alleges Hoffman exposed himself to her when she was underage. Oliver lamented that the story became more about the fact that he brought the allegations up, rather than Hoffman’s rsponse.

“It wasn’t ideal that it became such a big media story because then it became about my questions rather than his answers, and my questions were not particularly remarkable,” Oliver continued. “His answers were kind of not great…but it didn’t really go anywhere constructive, so the whole thing just made me feel sad.”

Oliver agreed with Howard’s assertion that it was still better than if he had ignored the topic altogether, but dubbed his own efforts a failure.

“I just wanted it to become something more constructive, but it was clear pretty early on that was not gonna happen. I tried and failed.”

Watch the whole interview below. The section on Hoffman begins around the 9:40 mark.