December 5, 2017

On a panel before the screening of "Wag the Dog," John Oliver confronts Dustin Hoffman about sexual harassment.

Several things you need to notice here:

1. "Wag the Dog" — a 20-year of political satire — was written by David Mamet and satirizes the problem of fake news as it was seen during the Bill Clinton era. A fake war (with Albania) is created to distract people from the President's sex scandal (involving an underage girl).

2. Dustin Hoffman has recently been accused of inappropriately touching a 17-year-old. The alleged touching took place more than 10 years before "Wag the Dog," during the Reagan era.

3. John Oliver has an HBO comedy show that uses the format of a real news show, so it's sort of "fake news" (except that we know what it is and the comedy often sheds light on real news stories). The selection of Oliver to moderate a panel about "Wag the Dog" seems absolutely perfect.

4. This was not an awards show or gala event honoring Hoffman or his movie. This was a discussion at the at the 92nd Street Y, where (I believe) audiences expect a serious intellectual conversation, not lightweight blather.

5. Under the circumstances, Hoffman had to know that the topic of sexual harassment was so obviously on the table that not to talk about it would feel like a coverup. He wasn't blindsided. He chose to appear. And — to his credit — he did not get up and stomp out. He didn't even raise his voice. He defended himself.

6. Oliver deserves credit for raising the subject and for not letting it go after a superficial answer. The news reports of the discussion stress how awkward it felt, but I think it's great that the "fake" newsman (Oliver) demonstrated what a real newsman ought to do with an interview. Keep going and get somewhere with the story.

7. As Deadline Hollywood tells it:
Warning it was “likely to be the tensest part of the evening,” Oliver started in with Hoffman... “You’ve made one statement in print,” Oliver said. “Does that feel like enough to you?” Hoffman replied, “First of all, it didn’t happen, the way she reported.” He said his apology over the incident, offered, he said, at the insistence of his reps, was widely misconstrued “at the click of a button.”...

“It’s that part of the response to this stuff that pisses me off,” Oliver said. “It is reflective of who you were. You’ve given no evidence to show that it didn’t happen. There was a period of time when you were creeping around women. It feels like a cop-out to say, ‘Well, this isn’t me.’ Do you understand how that feels like a dismissal?”‘
Hoffman shot back, “You weren’t there.” Oliver responded, “I’m glad”....

“You’ve put me on display here,” Hoffman told Oliver, seething but never raising his voice or leaving his seat. “You have indicted me. … That’s not innocent until proven guilty.” Hoffman tried to put it in historical context, saying sometimes the atmosphere on set decades ago involved sexually charged banter, which he said was not meant in an offensive way.

"I don’t love that answer either,” Oliver said, cringing.

“What response do you want?” Hoffman demanded. “It doesn’t feel self-reflective in the way it seems the incident demands,” Oliver explained, adding, “I get no pleasure from this conversation. But you and I are not the victims here.”

When Oliver quoted from an account Hoffman’s accuser wrote, the actor asked Oliver, incredulous, “Do you believe this stuff you’re reading?” Oliver said he did “because she would have no reason to lie.”...

“The so-called, alleged comments that are made are truth now,” Hoffman fumed. “And if you try to defend it, you’re guilty... it’s a little more complicated than that.” ...

“I can’t leave certain things unaddressed,” [said Oliver]. “That leads to me at home later tonight hating myself, asking, ‘Why the f–k didn’t I say something? No one stands up to powerful men.'”

Hoffman asked... “Am I the powerful man?”...
8. As evidence of his "incredible respect" for women, Hoffman offered his acting experience dressing as a woman in the movie "Tootsie?" He said he experienced misogyny first-hand because one time he stayed in makeup and costume and went out (presumably in public). He said: “How could I have made that movie if I didn’t have incredible respect for women?” he asked. “It’s shocking to me that you don’t see me more clearly.” Don't we all want to be seen for who we really are, deep down inside? Probably not, but it's a rhetorical device to say I want you to see the real me. It's really the same idea that Oliver called "a cop-out" — saying that whatever is bad "isn’t me."

9. There was a woman on the panel, the "Wag the Dog" producer, Jane Rosenthal. She began with "As the only women here on this panel." As a woman, I am alerted to care about what she then did with the authority she claimed. Well, she made a move I've seen many already successful women make. She turned away from the problem of sexual exploitation to the subject of paying women more and giving them more positions in higher management: “We’ve got to start moving that conversation forward.” Who gets to say which direction is "forward"?

10. I'm glad Oliver pushed back: "We’re about to watch a movie where sexual harassment is an under-plot and there’s an elephant in the room because this conversation is not being had.” Rosenthal's response was: “It wasn’t produced by Weinstein Co. or Miramax, so you don’t have a really big conversation. Kevin Spacey wasn’t starring in it. Let’s look at real sexual criminal predators.” So: go look somewhere else — that's where your real evildoers are — not here with my friend.

11. No, Ms. Rosenthal, the predators seem to be all over the place. And quit making a whipping boy of Kevin Spacey who is not here to defend himself. You're totally stepping on Dustin Hoffman's main point, that he's "innocent until proven guilty" and it's terrible that when an accusation is made it becomes truth, "and if you try to defend it, you’re guilty... it’s a little more complicated than that."

63 comments:

eric said...

"You've given no evidence to show it didn't happen."

This is the left in a nutshell.

And this is how they'll run our government if we give them half a chance.

jaydub said...

"You’ve given no evidence to show that it didn’t happen."

You may have been charged with a crime long after the statute of limitations had expired and despite there being no evidence offered to support the charge, but you are responsible for proving your innocence. How did we get to this point?

Mattman26 said...

If I were Dustin's PR advisor, I think I would have counseled against the "How can I be accused of inappropriate behavior with women? I starred in Tootsie!" argument.

rehajm said...

John Oliver has an HBO comedy show that uses the format of a real news show, so it's sort of "fake news"

...and yet how many of his followers would claim one of their primary news sources is his show. Certainly many of the followers who sloshed over from Jon Stewart's show.

Sebastian said...

"When Oliver quoted from an account Hoffman’s accuser wrote, the actor asked Oliver, incredulous, “Do you believe this stuff you’re reading?” Oliver said he did “because she would have no reason to lie.”" Ah, yes, all those truth-telling women. But wait, weren't they just bimbo eruptions last year? Good for Hoffman to respond.

"Who gets to say which direction is "forward"?" Women. Because. But progs are miscalculating in this respect too. By escalating to all men, and claiming female privilege, they are undermining the old notion of equality, phony though it was, and arousing male resistance, since men won't want to be tarred and sidelined unjustly. Since at least some of the women in their lives will agree, it is not a foregone conclusion that prog women will win this battle of the sexes.

Bill Peschel said...

This is what you get when you abolish bear-baiting.

Owen said...

It is not just OK but highly laudable for John Cleverboy Oliver to play the Grand Inquisitor, ignoring and stepping all over the logical points made by his "guest" (victim). Oliver can do this because he is so smart and caring and brave to rip into a guy about a 30-year-old allegation. It must be true because she said it! And she has no reason to lie, oh no: getting a piece of Dustin Hoffman's hide is no motivation here, no sirree Bob.

At some level the psychology of these she-said complainants coming out decades later against famous people is like the crazy conduct of a Mark David Chapman shooting John Lennon. Very ugly stuff.

William said...

Would Hoffmann have believed such allegations if they had been made against Trump?....Congrats to Oliver for even raising them. I suppose you have to periodically act with integrity to maintain street cred.

traditionalguy said...

Trial by a jury of your peers is 100% the sole reason any Englishman could ever claim to have the privileges of a citizen not be smashed at the will of the King. We still have that expectation carefully preserved in our basic laws...so far.

But since Hoffman is a man we are being told to execute men first and take testimony under cross examination from a woman accuser later.

If men won't fight back to that blatant evil, then they deserve to be enslaved.



Left Bank of the Charles said...

“I was a better man with you as a woman than I ever was with a woman as a man.”

Ann Althouse said...

""Who gets to say which direction is "forward"?" Women. Because. But progs are miscalculating in this respect too."

You're assuming women are a single monolithic group, and you are doing it right where I am disagreeing with a woman.

I see:

1. the women who want to put sexual harassment in the foreground and figure out what the real problems are there and how to address them and

2. women like Rosenthal who don't want to talk about sex but posit that the sexual problem will take care of itself if we just put more women in management. I don't believe that causality, and it really annoys me to see Rosenthal say to the women in group 1 that they out to move on and push for higher wages and more executive positions for women.

Big Mike said...

So now they’re doing to Dustin Hoffman what they did to numerous undergraduate males during the Obama years ( and still today, apparently). There’s an accusation so you must be guilty as charged. Prove your innocence. Pick up the red hot iron bar from the boiling cauldron or something.

@Althouse, the day is coming when you women will have a lot to answer for.

tim in vermont said...

the day is coming when you women will have a lot to answer for.

They still have all of the pussies, so... no.

Fernandistein said...

"I loved the attention. Until I didn't."

And now she obviously loves the attention again.

robother said...

"You've given no evidence to show that it didn't happen." How does Oliver even utter those words in an English-speaking country? That phrase neatly captures the reversal of the "innocent until proven guilty" into the exact opposite.

Indeed, to suggest that a woman might lie about a decades-old encounter for monetary or psychological reasons is taken as evidence of guilt (which of course is the reason for the weasel-worded response that Oliver is taking issue with.)

Kevin said...

Who who hopes John Oliver is the next to be accused?

Other than Dustin Hoffman, I mean.

tim in vermont said...

Could be a denial of service attack too. Wouldn't put it past the lefties who have no actual counter to the arguments made here. Keep posting malformed comments to the blog, wasting server time rejecting them.

William said...

The woman involved kept a contemporaneous diary. She also told several friends of these incidents at the time they unfolded. Of course, she may have been fantasizing in her journal and the stories she told her friends, but I tend to believe her.

Kevin said...

"You've given no evidence to show that it didn't happen."

Maybe there should have been a big tank brought in to see if Hoffman sank or floated.

rhhardin said...

1. the women who want to put sexual harassment in the foreground and figure out what the real problems are there and how to address them a

1. Discover a new "public problem" (which had previously been a personal moral failing, perhaps; if that. It might have been a deal.)

2. Take ownership of it.

3. political power.

The public problem is generated by women wanting contradictory things and having an inclination to nag.

I'd say proving it's a public problem and not a personal problem ought to be first.

Not only are women not monolithic (assumption; I could argue brain wiring) but relationships aren't monolithic. Lines are drawn to mutual individual advantage.

That ought to be at the top of the investigation. If you start with the wrong initial division, everything is fucked up.

Milton, starting out wrong in a taxonomy: two great sexes animate the world.

donald said...

Jezebel says John Oliver has spoken the truth and that’s how men need to do this shit.

Owen said...

Upthread I expressed my point a bit carelessly. This is not a "30-year-old allegation," which would be "an allegation made 30 years ago [and scrutinized and tested ever since]." It is a "very recent allegation about something 30 years ago," which of course can no longer be scrutinized or tested except weakly by voting on who is a better liar. How...convenient. The no-name complainant has huge upside if she is believed and virtually no downside if she is not (in fact her sisterhood may rally around her and she can get campus speaking gigs and maybe an appearance on Oprah). Contrast her payoff matrix with that of the defendant: at best he survives with some lingering stink on his name. At worst he is ruined. Either way he will pay lawyers and handlers a boatload.

Sexual Justice: a total collapse of reason.

Kevin said...

women like Rosenthal who don't want to talk about sex but posit that the sexual problem will take care of itself if we just put more women in management.

Put another way: women who experienced no, or less, harassment but would like to use the situation as a career opportunity.

Would they really care if the situation kept on at some level as long as they had a new BMW and a spot near the door to park it?

Those IVF treatments and french-speaking nannies aren't going to pay for themselves!

John said...

I love Wag the Dog. I have it on dvd and watch it probably once a year. It gets better each tme.

Am I now supposef to burn the dvd? Yeah, that's likely to happen.

John Henry

rhhardin said...

I have a contemporaneous diary but it's all math.

Here's a page photographed long ago
https://www.flickr.com/photos/rhhardin/2641272967/sizes/o

If any woman harasses me, it will be in there too.

dreams said...

“It’s that part of the response to this stuff that pisses me off,”

John Oliver is so proud of his virtue signaling. It was a different era, context matters.

"One of the great paradoxes of our age is that we have somehow managed to have become for more sanctimonious than previous generations—and far more immoral as well."

https://amgreatness.com/2017/12/04/is-a-presidents-character-his-presidencys-destiny/

Paddy O said...

It's interesting to me that in the Wag the Dog era, the Christian Right was mocked and dismissed for their moralizing and antiquated view of sexuality and the impact of sexuality in entertainment.

rhhardin said...

Groundhog Day was much better than Wag the Dog.

The latter is just mocking politics as usual whereas the former is working out women, a real-life problem.

Ken B said...

I loathe John Oliver. So it is nice to see my low opinion of him so thoroughly vindicated.
"You've given no evidence to show it didn't happen."
That really is his approach. Watch his show, or Stewart, or that gay-basher Colbert. That's always the premise, that facts can be made up or ignored, that accuracy doesn't matter, that fairness is a joke.

rhhardin said...

It's not a new morality or prudishness. It's a women's gotcha attempt.

It will work until it's mocked properly.

Who knew there were so many wimp males.

Crimso said...

I've heard it will be a great day when our schools get all the money they need (there isn't that much money in the world) and the Air Force has to hold a bake sale to buy a bomber. It will also be a great day when journalism schools teach, and journalism outlets practice, "what a real newsman ought to do with an interview," and fake newsmen can go back to being entertainers.

Leora said...

I did read the woman's story a few weeks ago. My thought at the time was that it's really unfair to men to giggle and act as though you're perfectly happy and then 30 years later reveal publicly that you were offended.

How was Hoffman supposed to know you didn't find a joke about a clitoris funny if you laughed and said nothing? Women, even 17 year old women, have a responsibility to say what they want and not retroactively change the rules of engagement. Do we really want a culture where men avoid informally joking around with women because they don't know what will set them off at some random point in the future? I don't think it will lead to the betterment of society.

When I was seventeen I remember trying to get guys to not stop talking when I came into the room.

Bay Area Guy said...

Remember Dustin Hoffman in "Tootsie"?

That movie would now be considered a hate crime, because it mocked the transgendered community.

buwaya said...

Fairness is a joke.
Its all about who has power, i.e., money.
Colbert et al engage in dominance displays.
Thats at the core of their schtick.

rhhardin said...

I don't know any clitoris jokes. Everything down there is too indefinite to make good material.

Lots of dick jokes. Stand back, I don't know how big this thing gets.

Amadeus 48 said...

“The so-called, alleged comments that are made are truth now,” Hoffman fumed. “And if you try to defend it, you’re guilty... it’s a little more complicated than that.”

You have a bad ellipsis in this quote. It was Oliver who said "It's a little more complicated than that." I don't know what Oliver expected other than a general chin-wag about how tough it is to communicate effectively when you are creating art, and misunderstandings happen.

Hoffman's position is that the events were different than the complainant described them, but he is stuck defending himself from allegations offered by her as an assertion only. It's like playing he said, she said, where he can't say what he said.

My solution: cast Hoffman and Lena Dunham in Mamet's "Oleanna". Then we'll see some rocknroll.

rhhardin said...

Women and children. Both are taken, in a partial archetype, as innocent.

So pedophile crimes and sexual harassment are really the same thing. In that:

The thing about innocent is that the narrative then requires pure evil, played by the man.

It doesn't matter what happened. It matters that he's the man.

That's the narrative force in the reckoning.

Saint Croix said...

“It’s that part of the response to this stuff that pisses me off,” Oliver said. “It is reflective of who you were. You’ve given no evidence to show that it didn’t happen. There was a period of time when you were creeping around women. It feels like a cop-out to say, ‘Well, this isn’t me.’ Do you understand how that feels like a dismissal?”‘

Oliver had sex with farm animals.

Now prove it didn't happen.

Clyde said...

The iconoclasm continues unabated.

Also, I can't watch John Oliver. I've usually found him to be dishonest and obnoxious in his presentation and it makes my skin crawl.

Martin said...

If the crowd at the 92nd St Y wanted a serious discussion, what was the rationale for having a vacuous celebrity with a TV show as the moderator? Either Althouse or the people who put the event together do not know their audience.

tcrosse said...

Cue the Reckoning Fatigue.

Rabel said...

"Keep going and get somewhere with the story."

Oliver kept drilling until he hit a nerve.

I'm disappointed that at some point in the interview he didn't ask Dustin if it was safe.

Bad Lieutenant said...

rhhardin said...
I have a contemporaneous diary but it's all math.

Here's a page photographed long ago
https://www.flickr.com/photos/rhhardin/2641272967/sizes/o

If any woman harasses me, it will be in there too.
12/5/17, 11:12 AM


I think your virginity is safe, RH.

n.n said...

What was her name? It rhymes with a part of the woman's body.

Mulva. Delores. Of course.

n.n said...

Oliver had sex with farm animals.

Now prove it didn't happen.


Oliver is a member of PETA. He has animal friends. He is a vegan. He is useful for the Cause.

tcrosse said...

Oliver is a member of PETA. He has animal friends. He is a vegan. He is useful for the Cause.

So it was consensual ?

Nice said...

The whole thing seemed rehearsed to me. I'm betting Oliver met with Hoffman prior to the interview---standard procedure with most celebrity interviews. They discussed how to get just the right amount of conflict in order to strike a certain tone & intensity. This piece was nothing more than a showcase to allow Hoffman to try out his defense in advance of any forthcoming court cases.

Jupiter said...

Hoffman replied, “First of all, it didn’t happen, the way she reported.”

It sounds as if Hoffman believes he has a defense, but knows his fellow Lefties well enough to realize that having a defense is no defense.

Owen said...

Nice: and here I thought that I had a lock on the Most Cynical award...

Saint Croix said...

when he says…

There was a period of time when you were creeping around women

does he mean…

There was a period of time when you were single?

Ralph L said...

Cue the Reckoning Fatigue.

Makes you wonder who's trying to stay under the radar until it's old hat.

Jupiter said...

Ralph L said...
Cue the Reckoning Fatigue.

"Makes you wonder who's trying to stay under the radar until it's old hat."

God knows, I am.

Clyde said...

Rabel said...

Oliver kept drilling until he hit a nerve.

I'm disappointed that at some point in the interview he didn't ask Dustin if it was safe.


Laughed out loud on that one. Marathon Man was the first R-rated movie I ever saw. I was quite impressed with Marthe Keller's charms.

walter said...

"quit making a whipping boy of Kevin Spacey"
There is no evidence Spacey was into that...yet.

Drago said...

"There is no evidence Spacey was into that...yet."

Hiiiiiiiiyyyyooooooooooooo!

khematite said...

When John Oliver says "You’ve given no evidence to show that it didn’t happen," it's hard not to think of Criswell at the end of Plan 9 From Outer Space:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=51nceHeO0tE

wildswan said...

In the workforce, there has been a real problem with men continuing to make sexual comments or advances after a woman had showed she wasn't interested and the men then further interfering with the career of a woman who was openly displeased at the continued harassment. I can see it's hard to sort out such situations in the courts or on TV (for God's sake, TV figure anything out!!!). But women would really like workforce harassment to stop being the norm. Millennial women, just starting, don't want it to be part of their lives and I don't blame them. If, by objecting, they can force a new set of manners, I say good for them - the first good thing I've seen them do. Time was men went around tugging at their forelock when they spoke to lord - that was natural then, now it isn't. Similarly women want a change in the culture. I'm sure most men aren't brutal sexthugs like Weinstein and some of the others. But women want a man to realize whether she, the woman in question, that individual, wants an unprofessional relationship at work, the default being that what the woman wants is a job. Moreover, there's this weird thing where woman don't see having their shoulder fondled or a hand on their thigh or explicit remarks as a meaningless pleasantry to pass the time better. If that's all too hard to bother with, then someday you'll probably be very surprised like Dustin Hoffman, Charlie Rose, John Conyers and all the others.

JaimeRoberto said...

Mr. Oliver, you've given no evidence to show that you've stopped beating your wife.

bgates said...

I loathe John Oliver.

Speaking of John Oliver, dogs, and things people loathe, Oliver used a very expensive tax attorney to create two revocable trusts and a shell company named after his dog, so his name wouldn't appear anywhere near the records of his purchase of a $9.5 million dollar penthouse apartment.

The seller of the apartment could afford it because he was the global head of equities trading for Deutsche Bank.

Oliver could afford it thanks to his job complaining about how the rich are screwing everybody.

He's paying property tax of about zero point two five percent on the penthouse.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

It was all fund and games when the targets were those horrible (white) frat bros & some nerdy silicon valley tech bros but now that the "guilty until proven innocent, and by the way the evidence is often someone else's feelings so you can't ever prove anything" craze has started to harm Lefty & Media people it's suddenly a real problem we all need to think deeply about.

Poor Dustin! He can't defend himself. He has to live like the rest of us--one accusation away from ruination. All he'll have left as consolation is his millions of dollars. Don't everyone cry, now.

walter said...

Funny that he played the Tootsie card.
Similarly, Eddie Murphy played Big Mama.
Eddie seems a likely candidate for a reckoning..

MayBee said...

When Oliver quoted from an account Hoffman’s accuser wrote, the actor asked Oliver, incredulous, “Do you believe this stuff you’re reading?” Oliver said he did “because she would have no reason to lie.”...

No reason? Look! SHe's got everybody talking about her!

It's hard to understand why people who produce big lies do it, but they do. People do all kinds of things we don't understand. That's the one thing we should understand about people.

Darrell said...

I bet Oliver never paid for Trump to run. Another Lefty liar.