Headline News' Ashleigh Banfield was one of several prominent reporters to criticize a recent story on "Babe.net" that accused actor and comedian Aziz Ansari of sexual assault and harassment for what was, apparently, little more than a very bad date — and now the reporter is firing back.
Banfield said what many critical of the narrative were likely thinking: that while the Ansari story does show immaturity and even a lack of sympathy on the part of the actor, the bumbling, uncomfortable experience suffered by the story's protagonist, "Grace," is hardly the equivalent of date rape, or even the kind of sexual assault and harassment that gave rise to the #MeToo movement.
Banfield publicly fretted that equating a bad sexual experience with sexual assault endangered the #MeToo movement itself, and that the story was a setback in the fight against sexual misbehavior and male aggression.
But shortly after Banfield lit into the piece on television, the Babe.net reporter Katie Way, who told "Grace's" story of woe, fired back, unleashing a scathing — and very unprofessional — attack on Banfield's looks, relevancy, and opinions.
Banfield read the cringe-worthy letter on air on Tuesday.
"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, second-wave feminist has-been really relevant for a little while," the note read.
"I would NEVER go on your network," Way continued. "I would never even watch your network. No woman my age would ever watch your network. I will remember this for the rest of my career — I'm 22 and so far, not too shabby!"
Here's the letter in full:
It's an unequivocal no from me. 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. 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------ met before, for a little attention. I hope the ratings were worth it! I hope the ~500 RTs on the single news write-up made that burgundy lipstick bad highlights second-wave feminist has-been feel really relevant for a little while. She 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. Must be nice to piggyback off of the fact that another woman was brave enough to speak up and add another dimension to the societal conversation about sexual assault. Grace wouldn't know how that feels, because she struck out into this alone, because she's the bravest person I've ever met. I would NEVER go on your network. I would never even watch your network. No woman my age would ever watch your network. I will remember this for the rest of my career — I'm 22 and so far, not too shabby! And I will laugh the day you fold. If you could let Ashleigh know I said this, and that she is no-holds-barred the reason, it'd be a real treat for me.
Banfield in turn, fired back.
“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,” she said.
“I was brown-haired for a while when I was a war corespondent, interviewing Yasser Arafat, and in Afghanistan and Iraq, Gaza and the West Bank. Google those places," Banfield continued. "That is not the way we have this conversation, as women or men."