In light of the recent accusations against Les Moonves, Last Week Tonight host John Oliver found it his duty to address workplace harassment and to help resurrect an old liberal hero.
On his July 29 show, after giving his own thoughts about sexual harassment, Oliver turned to the person he said “kickstarted” the conversation about workplace harassment back in the 90s; this was none other than Anita Hill who accused Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment after he was nominated to the Supreme Court in 1991. Hill was the ideal candidate for Oliver to interview, as Thomas is a strong conservative and one of the media’s favorite targets. (One wonders why Oliver didn’t interview Juanita Broaddrick, the woman who Bill Clinton allegedly raped back in 1978.)
Oliver painted Hill as a victim of “character assassination.” (Clarence Thomas called himself the victim of a “high-tech lynching,” for what it’s worth). The interview quickly turned into an Anita Hill pity party as Oliver listened to her talk about her misfortunes. “I’ve lived through a lot of challenges and having questions thrown at me to challenge my competency as a woman as a woman of color,” Hill said. “I have had my life turned upside down.”
“The whole idea of false claims is something that is another one of those roadblocks that people throw up,” Hill stated as she attempted to disavow the idea that women could often have ulterior motives in raising accusations.
“We’ve seen a lot of men saying they’re absolutely terrified to be alone with a woman now,” commented Oliver, “Should they be scared?”
“Not if they’re not harassers,” Hill answered to audience applause.
Other than helping Hill claim victimization, Oliver asked questions about how to address sexual harassment and even had time to talk about his previous innaction and failings regarding assault. This last part the newsite Salon gawked over as an “extraordinary … moment of self-reflection.”
Oliver’s show was a big hit across the media as Vanity Fair called the interview “a must watch”, and USA Today headlined a piece “John Oliver tackles sexual harassment, Les Moonves with help from Anita Hill.” The interview also got hits on sites like Rolling Stone, Huffington Post, and Time magazine, among others.
The media simply fell over themselves trying to give voice to their fallen hero, Anita. Who knows? Maybe with the #MeToo movement, Hill will be able to tople that terrible conservative Clarence Thomas after all.