Megyn Kelly stood by her decision to ask Jane Fonda about her plastic surgery during a segment of her show Monday, bitingly reminding her audience that the Oscar-winning actress and activist’s name is “synonymous with outrage.”
Last September, Kelly asked Fonda, who was a guest on her show along with Robert Redford promoting their new film Our Souls At Night, about what she thought about plastic surgery. At the time, Fonda looked offended by the question, and responded with a dismissive, “We really want to talk about that right now?”
The Jane Fonda in Five Acts star told Variety in an interview published Saturday that she was “stunned” by the question, and thought it was “so inappropriate. It showed that she’s not that good an interviewer.”
On Monday, Kelly fired back at Fonda, calling her out for what she dubbed the “poor-me routine.”
“First, some context,” Kelly said. “Fonda was on [my show] to promote a film about aging. For years, she has spoken openly about her joy in giving a cultural face to older women. Well, the truth is, most older women look nothing like Fonda, who is now 80. And if Fonda really wants to have an honest discussion about older women’s cultural face, then her plastic surgery is tough to ignore. Fonda herself knows this. She knows this. That’s why, to her credit, she’s discussed plastic surgery pretty much everywhere before coming on our show.”
Kelly then rolled a clip showing Fonda talking about the benefits of plastic surgery on numerous other talk and news shows. To this, Kelly noted that it seemed odd that she was ridiculed for asking a question Fonda had seemingly so readily responded to in previous interviews.
“Look, I gave her the chance to empower other women, young and old, on a subject she purports to know well, and she rejected it,” Kelly said. “And that’s okay. But I have no regrets about that question. Nor am I in the market for a lesson for Jane Fonda on what is and what is not appropriate.”
The talk show host then fired back at Fonda by harkening back to her earliest days as a celebrity activist, when she engaged in protests against the Vietnam War and other causes. It was her July 1972 trip to Hanoi in particular, when a now-iconic and misunderstood image of her sitting on an anti-aircraft gun surfaced, that earned her the name “Hanoi Jane,” and led critics to call her a traitor to her own country.
“Look at her treatment of our military during the Vietnam war,” Kelly said, referencing the incident. “Many of our veterans still call her Hanoi Jane thanks to her radio broadcast which attempted to shame American troops. She posed on an anti-aircraft gun used to shoot down our American pilots. She called our POWs hypocrites and liars, and referred to their torture as ‘understandable.’ Even she had to apologize years later for that gun picture, but not for the rest of it.”
“By the way, she still says she’s ‘not proud’ of America,” Kelly continued. “So the moral indignation is a little much. She put her plastic surgery out there. She said she wanted to discuss the plight of older women in America. And honestly, she has no business lecturing anyone on what qualifies as offensive.”
Fonda has indeed expressed regret for that controversial photo over the years. “Whenever possible I try to sit down with vets and talk with them, because I understand and it makes me sad,” she said during a 2015 appearance in Frederick, Maryland, in which she was met by protesters. “It hurts me and it will to my grave that I made a huge, huge mistake that made a lot of people think I was against the soldiers.”
“I’m a lightning rod,” she continued. “This famous person goes and does something that looks like I’m against the troops, which wasn’t true, but it looked that way, and I’m a convenient target. So I understand.”