John Oliver talks to Anita Hill

On ‘Last Week Tonight,’ John Oliver Talks #MeToo With Anita Hill

Amy Feinstein - Author
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Aug. 1 2018, Updated 7:54 p.m. ET

John Oliver, the host of Last Week Tonight on HBO, usually covers politics and current events with a humorous angle, but this week he sat down with Professor Anita Hill to talk about her own experience with the #MeToo movement, and a view of her testimony about Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas looking at it now with a 2018 lens.

Vanity Fair says that in interviewing Hill, Oliver says it’s now depressing to think of how many men in Congress didn’t believe her and felt comfortable disrespecting her on national television suggesting she was a woman scorned, lying to stick it to a successful man.

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“Re-watching the Senate debate about her now, it is depressing how many of the techniques used to undermine her are still around today. Concern over false allegations, blaming the victim, to outright character assassination.”

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At the end of the hearings, Clarence Thomas was confirmed and Anita Hill was pushed aside as an opportunistic woman.

But Hill told Oliver she thinks there have been some changes with the #MeToo movement, but there are more to come.

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“There has been a tremendous amount of change in public attitude and there has been a change in the information we have about sexual harassment. Even a few years ago, people were ambivalent about what the consequences should be concerning behaving incredibly badly in the workplace.”

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Professor Hill says that if Clarence Thomas were having his hearing today, he would be worried.

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“If you are a harasser, then you should be terrified.”

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Over the last nine months, Professor Hill says she has been proud of the women who have stepped up, and the society which believes them, which is an improvement over the early ’90s.

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“‘I’m feeling more optimistic than I was 27 years ago.’ Oliver was quick to point out that this wasn’t really saying much—a point Hill conceded before adding, ‘But even then, I was somewhat optimistic—because I had seen people step up… So I’m hopeful.'”

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But Professor Hill added that there is still work to be done and progress to be made, says Salon. Hill says that the #MeToo movement still needs more men to not only support women who are telling their truth, but also to step up while the harassment and assault are in progress.

Oliver admits that there were times over the years when he realizes he could have done more and spoken up or spoken out.

“I think back now to myself in the workplace over the years and I can’t honestly say that I consistently spoke up if I saw creepy behavior, especially when I was much younger and I felt that I was on the lower end of the power dynamic and didn’t necessarily feel empowered to speak out and say that’s wrong,” he says, admitting that’s a fairly poor excuse. “… How should I feel about myself looking back? Other than slightly ashamed?”

Professor Hill told Oliver that shame is a good start.

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“Slightly ashamed is a good start.”

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