Megyn Kelly Lambasts Jane Fonda: Her "Name Is Synonymous With Outrage"

Responding to Fonda’s criticism, the 'Today' anchor revisits Vietnam, says Fonda has "no business lecturing anybody on what qualifies as offensive."

Apparently Megyn Kelly has had enough. The Today anchor laid into Jane Fonda on her 9 a.m. program Monday, and used Fonda’s actions during the Vietnam War to make her point.

The bad blood harks back to September, when Kelly asked Fonda about her plastic surgery. It was the premiere week of Kelly’s program, and Fonda was on the show along with Robert Redford to promote their Netflix film Our Souls at Night about the romance between two octogenarian neighbors. When Kelly asked Fonda, 80, about aging and her openness about the plastic surgery she’s had, Fonda became combative and snapped: “We really want to talk about that now?”

The interview never really got back on track, and Fonda continued to criticize Kelly during subsequent media appearances, including as recently as last week.

Speaking directly to the camera during the final minutes of her program, Kelly said she tried to brush it off, but claimed that Fonda “appears to be fixated on an exchange.”

“When she first complained, I chose to say nothing,” Kelly told her audience, adding, “It’s time to address the 'poor me' routine.”

Kelly said that Fonda was promoting a film “about aging. To her credit, she has discussed her cosmetic surgery pretty much everywhere before coming on our show.”

Cue several clips of Fonda talking about her surgery during TV appearances, including on NBC's Today and CNN’s Larry King Live.

"She said the same to Entertainment Tonight. To Access Hollywood. To W magazine for a cover piece. To The Guardian. I could go on," said Kelly. "Apparently when she came here, however, again to promote her film about aging, I was supposed to discern that this subject was suddenly off-limits."

Kelly said she has “no regrets about that question. Nor am I in the market for a lesson from Jane Fonda on what is or is not appropriate.”

And that’s when she brought up Vietnam. Fonda has a long history of activism, but her entrée into activism in the early 1970s when the country was gripped by violent Vietnam War protests has continued to define her. She was dubbed “Hanoi Jane” for appearing in a photo on a North Vietnamese anti-aircraft gun.

Kelly showed the infamous photo. “This is a woman whose name is synonymous with outrage,” she said. “Look at her treatment of our military during the Vietnam War. The moral indignation is a little much. Honesty, she has no business lecturing anyone on what qualifies as offensive.”

Fonda has since expressed her regrets. “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,” she said in 2015.

The first week of any show is bound to be rocky. But Kelly's profile — her public tussles with Donald Trump, her high-profile exit from Fox News and her allegations of harassment against late Fox News CEO Roger Ailes — meant that the scrutiny was especially intense. She has since seemed to find her legs in large part by focusing on the voices of the #MeToo movement. Last week, however, a fired writer's email to company executives alleging a "toxic" work environment engendered a smattering of negative headlines. But for the first three days last week, Megyn Kelly Today averaged 2.9 million viewers, which is shaping up to be the show's best week so far. (Ratings for Thursday and Friday were not available at press time.) And Kelly framed her response as an indictment on Fonda’s refusal to be an example for women in Hollywood and beyond who face ageism. 

Said Kelly: “I gave her the chance to empower other women, young and old, on a subject which she purports to know well, and she rejected it.”