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Ashleigh Banfield Called Aziz Ansari's Accuser's Allegations "Reckless" And "Appalling"

The anchor's searing comments on air have drawn praise and, of course, more heated backlash.

Posted on January 16, 2018, at 1:10 p.m. ET

During a segment discussing the #MeToo and Time's Up movement on HLN, host Ashleigh Banfield delivered a scathing monologue addressed to the woman who accused Aziz Ansari of sexual misconduct. "What you have done is appalling," Banfield said.

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Over the weekend, a 23-year-old Brooklyn-based photographer named "Grace" detailed an encounter last year with comedian Aziz Ansari to Babe.net that she called "the worst night of my life."

Ansari responded to the detailed allegations of sexual misconduct, saying he was "surprised and concerned" that the woman felt their encounter was not consensual.

The anonymous accuser and the publication that ran the accusations have since both drawn criticism from other outlets like the Atlantic and the New York Times. On Monday, Banfield wrote and read her own "open letter" to Ansari's accuser on air on HLN.

"Dear Grace — not your real name, I'm sorry you had a bad date," Banfield began. "I've had a few myself. They stink."

"I'm sure it must be weighing on you — it's hard being a victim. ... But let's take a moment to reflect on what you claim was the 'worst night of your life,'" she said. Banfield went on to summarize, in her words, what the night entailed: "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 wasn’t 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."
HLN / CNN

"I'm sure it must be weighing on you — it's hard being a victim. ... But let's take a moment to reflect on what you claim was the 'worst night of your life,'" she said.

Banfield went on to summarize, in her words, what the night entailed: "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 wasn’t 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 was your beef?" Banfield said. She then went on to voice her opinion that what Ansari's accuser did by going to the press was "appalling," and compromising to the #MeToo and Time's Up movements.

Banfield asked if the accuser's so-called "bad date" was what "victimized" her "to the point of seeking a public conviction." “But what you have done, in my opinion, is appalling,” Banfield said. “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.” The anchor said she's been a victim of sexual misconduct herself, before launching into a statement addressed directly to the anonymous accuser, whose choice to remain anonymous Banfield noted protected her from experiencing a "career hit" like Ansari."You had an unpleasant date. And you did not leave. That is on you. And all the gains that have been achieved on your behalf and mine are now being compromised by the allegations that you threw out there — and I'm going to call reckless and hollow.”
HLN / CNN

Banfield asked if the accuser's so-called "bad date" was what "victimized" her "to the point of seeking a public conviction."

“But what you have done, in my opinion, is appalling,” Banfield said. “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.”

The anchor said she's been a victim of sexual misconduct herself, before launching into a statement addressed directly to the anonymous accuser, whose choice to remain anonymous Banfield noted protected her from experiencing a "career hit" like Ansari.

"You had an unpleasant date. And you did not leave. That is on you. And all the gains that have been achieved on your behalf and mine are now being compromised by the allegations that you threw out there — and I'm going to call reckless and hollow.”

Banfield's impassioned thoughts on the matter have drawn a range of reactions on social media. Many agree, and are thanking her for speaking on the subject publicly.

@TVAshleigh THANK U!!!👏🏽👏🏽👏🏽👏🏽👏🏽👏🏽👏🏽👏🏽👏🏽👏🏽👏🏽

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@TVAshleigh I applaud you for your statement last night in regards to Aziz. Some things are being blown way out of proportion.

Ashleigh Banfield got it right. After reading the details of what happened, that was not rape or sexual assault, it… https://t.co/ZZGtvHjdDp

Thank you Ashleigh Banfield for being a sound minded human being.

"I'm with @TVAshleigh on this one," Arsenio Hall tweeted Monday evening while tagging Ansari.

I’m with @TVAshleigh on this one. re: @azizansari https://t.co/u4ksHqJ0uX

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Others did not like her characterization of the encounter as a "bad date" and called it dismissive.

@MarlowNYC @TVAshleigh Ashleigh Banfield calling it a bad date completely misses the point and how it relates direc… https://t.co/1le2W59huT

@TVAshleigh you’ve clearly never been in a situation such as Grace and you sure as hell don’t have the right to dismiss how she felt.

Some are expressively angered by her opinions.

Fuck you, Ashleigh Banfield.

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