- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 16, 2018

HLN host Ashleigh Banfield delivered monologue Monday night tearing into an anonymous woman who accused comedian Aziz Ansari of sexual misconduct, saying the woman risked damaging the #MeToo movement over an encounter that was nothing more than a “bad date.”

“What you have done, in my opinion, is appalling,” Ms. Banfield scolded. “You went to the press with a story of a bad date and you have potentially destroyed this man’s career over it — right after he received an award for which he was privy.

“And here is where I am going to claim victim,” she added. “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 in broadcasting.”

In a story on Babe.net, a woman identified only as a 23-year-old Brooklyn photographer named Grace said a date with Mr. Ansari in September turned into the “worst night” of her life after he allegedly missed her “verbal and non-verbal cues” that she wasn’t interested in hooking up with him. Grace said she eventually relented and engaged in oral sex with Mr. Ansari at his apartment, but later regretted it.

The “Master of None” star, who recently took home the award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy, responded to Grace’s claims in a statement Monday.

“We went out to dinner, and afterwards we ended up engaging in sexual activity, which by all indications was completely consensual,” Mr. Ansari said. “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. I continue to support the movement that is happening in our culture. It is necessary and long overdue.”

Multiple voices have come forward to defend Mr. Ansari against the allegations. In an article for The Atlantic titled, “The Humiliation of Aziz Ansari,” Caitlin Flanagan said the woman and the Babe.net writer who told her story created nothing more than “3,000 words of revenge porn” that was “intended not to validate her account as much as it is to hurt and humiliate Ansari.”

New York Times editor Bari Weiss said Mr. Ansari’s only crime was not being a mind reader.

In her monologue Monday night, Ms. Banfield accused the woman of damaging the movement that has shined a light on sexual misconduct.

“You had a bad date,” she said. “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 gonna call them reckless and hollow.

“The only sentence that a guy like [Mr. Ansari] deserves is a bad case of blue balls, not a Hollywood blackball,” she concluded.

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