Headline News anchor Ashley Banfield shared an email she received from Babe.net reporter Katie Way slamming her for criticizing the 23-year-old woman who accused Aziz Ansari of sexual misconduct.
Banfield read parts of the email during her show on Tuesday, January 16, in which the writer of the Ansari piece turned down a request to appear on the show. “Ashleigh, someone who I am certain nobody under the age of 45 has heard of, I hope the 500 retweets on the single news write up made that burgundy lipstick, bad highlights, secondwave feminist has-been really relevant for a little while,” Banfield read from the email.
Banfield said she chose to share Way’s email because of the comments the writer made about her appearance: “The reason I want to share that 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.”
Way, 22, broke the news about the accusation on Babe.net, and she wrote in her email that the anchor’s criticism of the accuser “was one of the lowest, most despicable things” she had ever seen. “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—cking met before, for a little attention,” Way wrote. “I hope the ratings were worth it!”
The reporter added: “She [Banfield] 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.”
As previously reported, Babe.net published the lengthy story on Sunday, January 14, where the photographer, under the pseudonym “Grace,” described an evening with Ansari. In the story, she said he allegedly pressured her to have sex, despite her expressing discomfort with the situation through “verbal and non-verbal” cues. Grace said she eventually engaged in oral sex but later regretted it.
On Monday, the HLN host read a scathing open letter to Grace, in which she accused her of damaging the #MeToo movement and called her decision to go to the press “appalling.”
“Let’s take a moment to reflect on what you claim was the ‘worst night of your life,’” the journalist said. “Your date got overly amorous. After protesting his moves, you did not get up and leave. You continued to engage in the sexual encounter. By your own clear description, this wasn’t a rape, nor was it a sexual assault.”
Banfield added: “So what exactly is your beef? 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?”
“You have chiseled away at a movement that I, along with all my sisters in the workplace, having been dreaming of for decades,” Banfield continued. “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 Master of None star, 34, responded to Grace’s claims in a statement to Us Weekly on Sunday. “In September of last year, I met a woman at a party. We exchanged numbers. We texted back and forth and eventually went on a date,” he said. “We went out to dinner, and afterwards we ended up engaging in sexual activity, which by all indications was completely consensual.”
“The next day, I got a text from her saying that although ‘it may have seemed OK,’ upon further reflection, she felt uncomfortable,” the Parks and Recreation alum continued. “It was true that everything did seem OK to me, so when I heard that it was not the case for her, I was surprised and concerned. I took her words to heart and responded privately after taking the time to process what she had said.”
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