Harvey Weinstein has been defended by 'Today' show host Kathie Lee Gifford in the wake of the sexual harassment allegations against him.

The 65-year-old disgraced producer has been accused of sexually harassing a number of female employees over a 30 year period, and whilst many in Hollywood have condemned him for his alleged actions, television host Kathie has revealed she reached out to him when the scandal broke in October.

Kathie - who also got in touch with Bill Cosby when he too was accused of sexual misconduct - said: ''I don't want to throw everybody on the same manure pile. Being a jerk is not the same as being a rapist. It just isn't. I've been friends with Bill for a long, long time ... Harvey Weinstein was a friend of mine for 30 years. I called him and left a message.

''I just want people to know I don't judge them. I don't like what they do, but God knows their hearts and there's hope for them. You can't call yourself a friend if the first minute there's trouble, you run. That's called a fair-weather friend and that's not a friend at all.''

However, the 64-year-old show host insists she isn't defending the alleged actions of the stars in any way as she claims she has been a victim of sexual harassment herself and found it ''awful''.

She instead hopes people can be ''merciful'' toward those who are ''sorry'' for their alleged behaviour.

Speaking during an appearance on Andy Cohen's radio show 'Radio Andy', Kathie said: ''I hope people are not misunderstanding this. I'm not saying that that kind of behaviour is in any way acceptable. It isn't, and it's horrible, and as a woman who has experienced it, it's awful.

''But can we at least look at each individual case and see it for what it is? And be merciful to people who are sorry for what they've done? If we stop having mercy as a part of our vocabulary, Andy, our world will completely die.''

Since the allegations against him first emerged, Harvey has denied any accusations of non-consensual sex.