HLN host Ashleigh Banfield slammed a 23-year-old New York photographer who anonymously told the website Babe that she felt “victimized” after a date with actor and comedian Aziz Ansari.
Banfield read an open letter on to the photographer on her HLN show “Crime & Justice”:
Let’s take a moment to reflect on what you claim was the “worst night of your life.” You had a bad date. 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. By your description, your sexual encounter was unpleasant. It did not send you to the police. It did not affect your workplace or your ability to get a job.
So I have to ask you, 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? Is that truly what you thought he deserved for your night out? Let me be clear. If you were sexually assaulted you should go to the police right now…
The #MeToo movement has righted a lot of wrongs and it has made your career path much smoother … what a gift. Yet, you looked that gift horse in the mouth and chiseled away at that powerful movement with your public accusation…
I hope the next time you go on a bad date, you stand up sooner, you smooth out your dress and you bloody well leave. Because the only sentence that a guy like that deserves is a bad case of blue balls, not a Hollywood blackball.
Ansari issued his own statement that confirmed they met at a party, went out to dinner on a date and engaged in sexual activity, “which by all indications was completely consensual,” notes TV Guide:
The next day, I got a text from her saying that although”‘it may have seemed okay,” upon further reflection, she felt uncomfortable. It was true that everything did seem okay 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.
Caitlin Flanagan wrote in The Atlantic that the young woman’s accusation in Babe was “3,000 words of revenge porn”:
The clinical detail in which the story is told is intended not to validate her account as much as it is to hurt and humiliate Ansari. Together, the two women may have destroyed Ansari’s career, which is now the punishment for every kind of male sexual misconduct, from the grotesque to the disappointing.