"There is 100 percent a conversation here, and there is a way to have that," the HLN anchor tells Megyn Kelly.
The HLN anchor stopped by NBC's "Megyn Kelly Today" on Friday to defend her stance that the actor's behavior during a date with a 22-year-old woman was not worthy of being lumped in with the recent sexual harassment and misconduct allegations running rampant across the entertainment industry.
"There is 100 percent a conversation here, and there is a way to have that," Banfield told Kelly. "I think this was launched in a very sloppy and reckless way because what happened, as you said and you are a lawyer, you know, you said 'allegedly.' What happened, if her words are true, did not amount to something that's actionable, legally actionable, but what she did was the equivalent of a sentence for a man. That was where I took issue with publicizing this the way she did."
"I think it was a pendulum, and a pendulum can be a good thing, but when a pendulm swings back, it comes back with a vengeance," she continued. "And it crushes foundations that are built. I was worried, having been in television now for 30 years, and having slogged through a lot of this garbage, that this wonderful foundation that I said me and my sisters have been dreaming of, was going to get crushed."
Banfield said her biggest issue with the whole situation was that the account was published.
"We work for reputable organizations," she said. "We vet these things so meticulously that it would never have seen the light of day in our organizations, in our news organizations. I am not Aziz Ansari's defender. I've said from the beginning I'm not his defender. I said it was disgusting what he did. It was not actionable the way it was prosecuted."
Kelly agreed with Banfield that Grace's account did not "sound like sexual assault" but that she understood why Grace "cried all the way home," calling Ansari's alleged behavior "aggressive."
"Let's be clear we need to consider the source here as well," Banfield said. "Just a month prior, the headline from this organization and this writer was 'Your Drunk Food Choices and What Kind of Ho They Make You.'"
She added, "If that's the kind of sex that happened with anyone, it's conversation worthy without question."
Banfield first spoke out against the Babe.net story, written by Katie Way, about a woman codenamed "Grace." Monday. During her nightly talk show, Banfield delivered a scathing message to "Grace," who said she repeatedly turned down Ansari's advances for sexual intercourse while hooking up in his apartment. She characterized the evening as "a violating night and a painful one," though he later denied any wrongdoing.
"I'm sorry that you had a bad date. I have had a few myself. They stink," Banfield said Monday night, eliciting both applause and cries of victim-blaming. "But let's take a moment to reflect on what you claim was the 'worst night of your life.' Your date got overly amorous. After protesting his moves, you did not get up and leave right away. You continued to engage in the sexual encounter. By your own clear description, this was not a rape, nor was it a sexual assault."
"By your description, your sexual encounter was unpleasant. It did not send you to the police, it did not affect your workplace, or your ability to get a job. So I have to ask you, what exactly was your beef?" she continued. "That you had a bad date with Aziz Ansari? Is that what victimized 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?"
"What you have done, in my opinion, is appalling," Banfield said. "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 worthy. And now here is where I am going to claim victim. 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."
After describing the importance of the #MeToo movement -- something she says the accusers words have "chiseled away" at with her "public accusation" -- Banfield also called the account "reckless and hollow."
"The only sentence that a guy like that deserves is a bad case of blue balls, not a Hollywood blackball," she said in conclusion.
Banfield has also since clapped back at the Babe.net reporter for a nasty email in which Way wrote, "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 HLN anchor once again used air time to say, "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."
"I was brown-haired for a while when I was a war correspondent interviewing Yasser Arafat, and in Afghanistan and Iraq, Gaza and the West Bank. Google those place," Banfield added.