The editor-in-chief of the website which published an interview with a woman who accused Aziz Ansari of sexual assault has defended the piece, while also revealing that it was their reporter who approached the woman in question first.
The interview, which alleged that Ansari sexually assaulted a 23-year-old photographer known only as “Grace”, was published by Babe.net last weekend. Ansari has denied the allegations, saying that the pair had “engag[ed] in sexual activity, which by all indications was completely consensual”.
“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,” Ansari continued in his statement. “I took her words to heart and responded privately after taking the time to process what she had said.”
The editor of Babe, Joshi Herrmann, has now spoken out about the origins of and subsequent reaction to the piece, adding that the website had no regrets about running the story.
“We would publish this again tomorrow,” Herrmann told CNNMoney. “It’s newsworthy because of who he is and what he has said in his stand-up, what he has written in his book, what he has proclaimed on late night TV.
“[‘Grace”s] account is pointing out a striking tension between those things and the way she says he treated her in private.”
Recalling the origins of the piece, Herrmann revealed that Babe “heard about this story through personal networks, and then had to speak to a lot of different people before we got to the source. Our reporter Katie Way approached her, not the other way round.”
Herrmann clarified that the woman – who is the same age as Way – agreed to speak because she trusted the reporter and “because of Ansari’s appearance at the Golden Globes wearing a ‘Time’s Up’ pin.”
“I would suggest the reason this story appeared in Babe was because the source trusted our reporter and thought we would take her seriously and make the end product credible,” he added.
Herrmann also remarked that “if commentators want to patronise Babe because it’s a new site or they haven’t heard of it or because it’s run by a bunch of young women, that’s their trip.”
“The idea that reporters shouldn’t investigate stories that don’t involve law enforcement is patently ridiculous.”
Earlier this week, US news anchor Ashleigh Banfield hit out at Ansari’s accuser live on air, describing the recent allegations against the comedian as “reckless and hollow”.