'Judgment With Ashleigh Banfield': Fearless journalist to 'news actress' tag, this show host fought many odds

Before we unravel some of the most intriguing cases in US history, here's a look at the host who has decades of journalistic excellence to her credit


                            'Judgment With Ashleigh Banfield': Fearless journalist to 'news actress' tag, this show host fought many odds
Ashleigh Banfield (Getty Images)

As Court TV launches its brand new original true-crime series, 'Judgment With Ashleigh Banfield’, one can take a nosedive into some of the most high-profile and notorious trials in America's judicial history. The show will be hosted by Ashleigh Banfield, Court TV alum and former CNN and MSNBC legal analyst. As we reported earlier, some of the prominent cases featured in the series include those involving Casey Anthony, Jodie Arias, O J Simpson and Conrad Murray, among others. But before we unravel the most intriguing cases, here’s a look at Ashleigh Banfield.

Ashleigh Banfield attends the CNN The Seventies Launch Party at Marquee on June 9, 2015, in New York City (Getty Images)

Who is Ashleigh Dennistoun Banfield?

Born in 1967, Ashleigh Dennistoun Banfield is an award-winning Canadian-American journalist. She is also the former host of 'Legal View with Ashleigh Banfield' and 'Early Start' on CNN. She is currently a backup host of the Live PD show on A&E. The journalist who started her career at CJBN-TV in Ontario in 1988 has come to a long way courting controversies and yet making remarkable achievements.  

Ashleigh Banfield attends 'Capital' New York Special Screening at FIAF on October 7, 2013, in New York City (Getty Images)

Fearless humanitarian work

Banfield worked at CICT-TV as a producer, news anchor and business correspondent till 1995. She won two Iris Awards in 1994 in the categories of Best News Documentary and Best of Festival. In 2000, after winning an Emmy for her reporting at Dallas, KDFW-TV, she was hired by national cable network MSNBC and its parent NBC.

During that time, she earned praise for her coverage of George W Bush’s 2000 campaign and live reporting from the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. As a fearless journalist, she was there in the shadow of the North Tower as it collapsed in the terror attack. "I looked up and saw the building coming down and was amazed by what I was witnessing, but I wasn’t aware that it was coming down on me, onto where I was standing," Banfield recalled in an interview. Despite being devastated by the incident, she maintained her cool and struck a chord with viewers due to her fearless reportage, as reported by The Wrap.

Smoke pours from the World Trade Center after it was hit by two hijacjked passenger planes on September 11, 2001, in New York City in a terrorist attack (Getty Images)

Later, MSNBC promoted her and sent her around the world as the anchor of a new series, 'A Region in Conflict' where she mapped the length and breadth of the Middle East, earning a reputation as a dogged reporter with a nose for news for war and conflict zones. Banfield hosted the show from various locations such as Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and Saudi Arabia, making it the network's top-rated program, as per The Wrap. 

US Army 3rd Division 3-7 Bradley fighting vehicles take up a position along a road March 19, 2003, inside the demilitarized zone between Kuwait and Iraq (Getty Images)

"Ms. Banfield is widely considered within NBC News to be unusually gifted in front of the camera, with the sort of confidence and genuine delivery that is shared by an elite few in television news," reported The New York Times about her personality as a journalist.  

When she was mocked as a 'news actress'

As Banfield was tasting success as a journalist, she faced a lot of flak from her critics at MSNBC. She recounted in an interview with The Wrap, "Early in my network career, critics accused me of wearing fake lenses so I could wear glasses to look smarter. On one occasion, my ophthalmologist called in live to a radio show to prove to the host that I, in fact, had a pretty severe prescription," she added.
 
The New York Times reported on her waning fame at MSNBC saying that several people at the organization alleged that she alienated bosses and colleagues and had few supporters when her program languished in the ratings. Roger Ailes, the former Fox News Channel boss, even went as far as calling her a "news actress" in a 2002 interview with The New York Times, as reported by The Wrap. 

Ashley Banfield attends the 'A Hologram for the King' Premiere - 2016 Tribeca Film Festival at BMCC John Zuccotti Theater on April 20, 2016, in New York City (Getty Images)

In October 2002, MSNBC canceled Banfield’s show ‘Ashleigh Banfield: On Location’ citing a drop in ratings. The organization rebuked her when she spoke on Iraq war coverage in 2003, in a Landon Lecture at Kansas State University. She spoke against cable TV operators "who wrap themselves in the American flag and patriotism and go after a certain target demographic, which is very lucrative", inviting backlash in the early 2000s, as reported by The New York Times. 

Her comeback years

After her strenuous stint at MSNBC, she joined Court TV in 2005 where she co-hosted trial coverage show 'Banfield & Ford: Courtside' with Jack Ford and then took over the series 'Open Court'. Her last major assignment with the network was reporting on the Casey Anthony trial. Later, in 2012 she grabbed a major cable news network, co-anchoring CNN’s morning show ‘Early Start’ along with Zoraida Sambolin. In 2014, she also made a cameo in the Netflix series 'House of Cards'.

Jamie Colby, Ashleigh Banfield and Elizabeth Cohen attend HBO's New York Premiere of 'Six by Sondheim' at Museum of Modern Art on November 18, 2013, in New York City (Getty Images)

Later she joined HLN as the host on the legal issues interview program 'Primetime Justice with Ashleigh Banfield', which was re-branded as 'Crime & Justice with Ashleigh Banfield.' As she ventures with the latest show 'Judgment With Ashleigh Banfield’ as a host, it'd be worth watching how she unravels some of the most infamous and controversial trials.

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