Before the Aziz Ansari thing, I’m sure few had heard of Babe.net. An informal survey of my circle of friends revealed exactly zero who were familiar with the site prior to its story on Ansari’s supposed sexual misconduct.
Yet now we’re all talking about the site and its biggest story to date, one which is drawing a lot of criticism for justifiable reasons. One of those critics was veteran journalist and HLN anchor Ashleigh Banfield. Banfield noted that the story has devalued the whole #MeToo movement.
Babe.net writer Katie Way took issue with Banfield’s assessment. In the process, she illustrated the attitude of many Millennials which has everyone else so upset with the entire generation. Here’s the email she sent:
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.
Just … wow.
First, I have to hope that she doesn’t always write emails as a single paragraph. I mean, she’s supposed to be a professional writer, correct? That should mean she recognizes that everything she puts out there for people to read reflects on her professional skills. If this is the email in its whole, original form … *shudder*.
Next, while Banfield had harsh words for the Ansari story, they were regarding the newsworthiness of the story and the ethics of posting it. Whether you agree with Banfield or not, the criticism was professional criticism — the kind that can engender meaningful debate over what is and what isn’t news. We all take our lumps in this field, after all. Banfield’s criticism was relevant and pertinent to the story.
But Katie Way responded with ad hominem, anti-woman, ageist attacks on Banfield’s looks and her age. (Note: Being under 45, I must dispute Way’s crack, since I am familiar with Banfield and have been for some time. Whoops!) Way acted like a spoiled, petulant child who had been admonished for stealing a cookie. She followed up with a pathetic shot at righteous fury and self-importance: ” I will remember this for the rest of my career — I’m 22 and so far, not too shabby!”
“Shabby” would be a step in the right direction. Way should aspire to at least reach the level of “shabby” after this. She has no self-awareness. She writes for a site where her work includes riveting stories like, “Am I high as sh*t, or do these celebrities low-key look alike?” and “We know which celeb couples will break up in 2018 according to their star signs.”
Hopefully this develops into a learning experience for Way — a recognition that she was not well-prepared for the professional world, and that her ideology is a mess of hypocrisy.
Because what actually happened here is tragic. A 22-year-old woman had an encounter with a celebrity while the #MeToo phenomenon is unfolding, and appears to have felt it was sexual misconduct because her ideological brethren have so muddied the concept. She had an awkward, bad sexual experience, failed to communicate her discomfort, then told the world about it.
Katie Way, a woman who was born and raised as part of the “everyone gets a trophy” generation, received rational criticism, so she did what Millennials tend to do. She got petty and nasty, because that’s acceptable when your cause is righteous.
Well, she thinks she’s doing “not too shabby,” and I’m glad. Because this may well result in being the pinnacle of her career unless she adjusts her attitude, and the journalism world would be better off. As it stands now, she does not have the judgment for this, and more people like Ansari are going to pay the price.