HLN’s Ashleigh Banfield started a feud this week with Babe.net reporter Katie Way after the 50 year-old HLN anchor launched a simple-minded and thoughtless attack against Way’s story about a young woman accusing left-wing comedian Aziz Ansari’ of sexual misconduct.
On Sunday, Babe.net published an account from an anonymous 23-year-old who alleges Ansari failed to pick up her non-verbal cues. Although she was naked and twice gave him oral sex, she still claims he should have know that she was not interested in a hook-up.
On Monday night, Banfield told her measly 140,000 viewers (the 12 year-old reruns of Forensic Files that follow Banfield’s show draw twice as many viewers) what she thought of the allegations, the woman who made the allegations, and the reporter who wrote the story:
I’m sorry that you had a bad date. I have had a few myself. They stink. But let’s take a moment to reflect on what you claim was the ‘worst night of your life.’ Your date got overly amorous. After protesting his moves, you did not get up and leave right away. You continued to engage in the sexual encounter. By your own clear description, this was not a rape, nor was it a sexual assault. …
That you had a bad date with Aziz Ansari? Is that what victimized you to the point of seeking a public conviction and a career-ending sentence against him? Is that truly what you thought he deserved for your night out? What you have done, in my opinion, is appalling. You went to the press with a story of a bad date and you have potentially destroyed this man’s career over it, right after he received an award for which he was worthy.
Banfield then assumed her favorite position of making the story all about herself:
And now here is where I am going to claim victim. You have chiseled away at a movement that I, along with all of my sisters in the workplace, have been dreaming of for decades, a movement that has finally changed an oversexed professional environment that I, too, have struggled through at times over the last 30 years in broadcasting.
The next day, Banfield received an email from Way that mocked Banfield’s age, her “burgundy lipstick,” and “bad highlights”:
It’s an unequivocal no from me. The way your colleague Ashleigh (?), someone I’m certain no one under the age of 45 has ever heard of, by the way, ripped into my source directly was one of the lowest, most despicable things I’ve ever seen in my entire life. Shame on her. Shame on HLN. Ashleigh could have “talked” to me. She could have “talked” to my editor or my publication. But instead, she targeted a 23-year-old woman in one of the most vulnerable moments of her life, someone she’s never f—— met before, for a little attention. I hope the ratings were worth it! I hope the ~500 RTs on the single news write-up made that burgundy lipstick bad highlights second-wave feminist has-been feel really relevant for a little while. She DISGUSTS me, and I hope when she has more distance from the moment she has enough of a conscience left to feel remotely ashamed — doubt it, but still. Must be nice to piggyback off of the fact that another woman was brave enough to speak up and add another dimension to the societal conversation about sexual assault. Grace wouldn’t know how that feels, because she struck out into this alone, because she’s the bravest person I’ve ever met. I would NEVER go on your network. I would never even watch your network. No woman my age would ever watch your network. I will remember this for the rest of my career — I’m 22 and so far, not too shabby! And I will laugh the day you fold. If you could let Ashleigh know I said this, and that she is no-holds-barred the reason, it’d be a real treat for me.
The following night Banfield read the email on the air and fired back:
The reason I want to share that [email] is because if you truly believe in the #MeToo movement, if you truly believe in women’s rights, if you truly believe in feminism, the last thing you should do is attack someone in an ad hominem way for her age. I’m 50, and for my highlights, I was brown-haired for a while when I was a war correspondent, interviewing Yasser Arafat, and in Afghanistan and Iraq, Gaza and the West Bank. Google those places. That is not the way we have this conversation, as women or men.
In her own narcissistic and hysterical way, Banfield is correct that the allegations against Ansari do not add up to a #MeToo accusation.
Nevertheless, the reporting of the story is still legitimate and important.
Ansari poses as a woke, male feminist, and while none of his behavior crossed the line into non-consensual, because of this story, a powerful public figure has been exposed as a hypocrite.
We now know that Mr. Woke Feminist treats women like like sex toys, like disposable playthings. He is not a gentlemen, he has no honor, no chivalry, and some of his reported sexual practices (he has not denied anything in the article) are obviously meant to demean the woman he is with.
If you are a powerful public figure running around advertising yourself as God’s gift to women, when in reality you see them only as meat, reporting the truth about this public figure is important work.
This kind of mature nuance is, however, lost to Banfield, who only operates in one gear: Outrage.