During Monday’s episode of her HLN show “Crime & Justice,” Ashleigh Banfield criticized the woman who accused comedian Aziz Ansari of sexual misconduct during a date, accusations Banfield said “chiseled away” at the #MeToo movement.
In a column for the website Babe published on Saturday, an anonymous woman said that during a date last summer, Ansari behaved disrespectfully and aggressively pressured her to engage in sexual acts despite “verbal and non-verbal cues” that she was “uncomfortable and distressed.” Ansari said in a statement that the encounter was “by all indications was completely consensual,” but that he “took her words to heart” after she told him in a text that she was uncomfortable and upset about the encounter. Ansari also said “I continue to support the movement that is happening in our culture. It is necessary and long overdue.”
In her comments on the matter, Banfield addressed the accuser, saying “I’m sorry you had a bad date … I’ve had a few myself. They stink.” But, she said, “by your own clear description, this wasn’t a rape, nor was it sexual assault. So what exactly is your beef? That you had a bad date with Aziz Ansari?”
While the #MeToo movement has brought down powerful Hollywood personalities like Harvey Weinstein, Banfield said that the accuser’s encounter with Ansari did not merit a column that could severely damage his career. Specifically because the encounter “by your own admission … wasn’t a rape, nor was it a sexual assault. Your sexual encounter was “unpleasant” at best. It did not send you to the police. It did not affect your workplace … or your ability to get a job.”
“The #MeToo movement has righted many 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,” Banfield said.
“If you were sexually assaulted, go to the police. If you were sexually harassed, jeopardizing your work, speak up…but by your descriptions, that’s not what happened. You had an unpleasant date and you didn’t leave, that’s on you,” she said.
“All the gains that have been achieved, on your behalf and mine, are compromised by allegations that are reckless and hollow […] the only sentence a guy like [Ansari] deserves is a bad case of blue balls, not a Hollywood blackball.”
Following the broadcast, Banfield told TheWrap she made her on-air remarks because “it was just time someone said something out loud before the movement runs so amok we lose all the gains we’ve righteously achieved.”
Watch Banfield’s full speech in the clip above.
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