US news anchor condemns Aziz Ansari accuser live on air

Ashleigh Banfield calls sexual assault allegations "reckless and hollow"

US news anchor Ashleigh Banfield has hit out at Aziz Ansari’s sexual assault accuser live on air, describing the recent allegations against the comedian as “reckless and hollow”.

Over the weekend, Ansari was accused of sexual assault by an anonymous 23-year-old photographer referred to as “Grace” in an interview with online publication babe. He has since disputed the claims.

The woman said she felt the Master of None creator “took advantage” of her during a date and that she used verbal and non-verbal cues to indicate how uncomfortable and distressed she was.

She told babe: “I believe that I was taken advantage of by Aziz. I was not listened to and ignored. It was by far the worst experience with a man I’ve ever had.”

Former CNN anchor Banfield was speaking on CNN spin-off channel HLN when she delivered an impassioned open letter to the anonymous woman.

“I’m sorry you had a bad date,” Banfield said, going on to claim that incident described by the accuser “wasn’t a rape, nor was it a sexual assault”.

Aziz Ansari sexual misconduct

“You had a bad date. Your date got overly amorous,” Banfield argued. “After protesting his moves, you did not get up and leave. You continued to engage in the sexual encounter.”

“So what exactly is your beef?” the host asked. “That you had a bad date with Aziz Ansari? Is that what victimised 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?”

Revealing that she has been a victim of sexual misconduct herself, Banfield thenopined: “If you just had an unpleasant sexual experience, you should have gone home… But what you have done, in my opinion, is appalling.”

Banfield continued to suggest that the allegations were bad for the overall #MeToo movement, saying: “You have chiseled away at a movement that I, along with all 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.”

“All the gains that have been achieved on your behalf and mine are now being compromised by allegations that are reckless and hollow,” Banfield concluded.

Watch in the clip below.

This comes after The Atlantic published a divisive article by writer Caitlin Flanagan, who criticised the Ansari accusations and described them as “3,000 words of revenge porn… intended not to validate her account as much as it is to hurt and humiliate Ansari”.

Ansari recently issued a statement about the sexual assault allegations, saying that the pair had “engag[ed] in sexual activity, which by all indications was completely consensual”.

He went to say that, “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”.

  • For help, advice or more information regarding sexual harassment, assault and rape in the UK, visit the Rape Crisis charity website. In the US, visit RAINN.