HLN anchor Ashleigh Banfield hasn’t backed down from her criticism of the web article accusing actor Aziz Ansari of sexual misconduct – despite the petty personal insults tossed her way by one of the website’s editors.
Banfield appeared this morning on NBC’s Megyn Kelly Today, concurring with host Kelly that Ansari’s behavior during a date with a 22-year-old woman, as written and reported by Babe website reporter Katie Way, is indeed worthy of “a conversation.”
But Banfield didn’t ease up on her criticism of Way, Babe or the anonymous woman known only as “Grace” who made the claims about Ansari.
“There is 100 percent a conversation here,” Banfield told Kelly, “and there is a way to have the conversation. I think this was launched in a very sloppy and reckless way because what happened, as you said and you are a lawyer, you know, you said ‘allegedly.’ What happened, if her words are true, did not amount to something that is actionable.”
Banfield had previously spoken out about the Babe article, saying on her own HLN show that the article merely described “a bad date” and that “this was not a rape nor a sexual assault.”
Banfield’s commentary drew considerable backlash – and as much support – as did the emailed response from Babe’s Way, who, responding to a request to appear on Banfield’s show, told HLN “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… I hope the 500 retweets on the single news write up made that burgundy lipstick, bad highlights, second wave feminist has-been really relevant for a little while… She DISGUSTS me…”
The HLN host then responded on air to Way, reading Way’s email and noting, “I want to share this because I think this gives some insight into the caliber of the person who wielded that nuclear weapon at Aziz Ansari’s career.
“If you truly believe in feminism,” Banfield continued, “the last thing you should do is attack someone in an ad hominem way for her age — I’m 50 — for my highlights — I was brown-haired for a while when I was a war correspondent interviewing Yasser Arafat and in Afghanistan, Iraq, Gaza, and the West Bank — Google those places. That’s not the way we have those conversations as women or as men. We don’t attack — as journalists — we do not attack for people for their age, or their highlights, or their lipstick. It is the most hypocritical thing a woman who says she supports the woman’s movement could ever do.”
And Banfield didn’t go any easier on Way during her appearance with Kelly today. When Kelly said she saw nothing wrong with calling out “creeps,” an apparent reference to Ansari, Banfield, said, “Let’s be clear. We need to consider the source here. Just a month prior from this organization and this writer was ‘Your drunk food choices and what kind of ho they make you.’ ”
Banfield insisted, though, that she was not and is not defending Aziz Ansari, calling his behavior on the date “disgusting but not actionable.”
“We work for reputable organizations,” Banfield told Kelly, adding about the Babe article, “We vet these things so meticulously. It would never have seen the light of day in our organizations.”
Watch the interview above.