Pattye Benson

Community Matters

QVC Cancels Jane Fonda’s Appearance . . . Is Forgiveness Ever Possible?

It may have been almost 40 years, but what is the saying, “a picture is worth a thousand words”.

Jane Fonda continues to feel the sting for her anti-Vietnam War behavior of the 1960s and 70s. During a 1972 visit to Hanoi in North Vietnam, Fonda made radio broadcasts critical of US war policy. While there, controversial photographs showed her sitting atop a Viet Cong anti-aircraft gun. The photos angered Vietnam War supporters and US veterans and earned her the name ‘Hanoi Jane’.

It may have been forty years since Fonda outraged many with her anti-war antics but some have never forgotten. Although Fonda has expressed regret in the intervening years for those 1972 images, we learned this weekend that her apologies might not have translated into forgiveness. The day before her Saturday appearance, Chester County based QVC cancelled Fonda’s scheduled appearance due to the “extremist” pressure from political groups and threats to boycott the cable shopping show. After viewers called to protest the appearance of Jane Fonda on QVC, the show cancelled her scheduled appearance.

On her website ( Fonda writes of the QVC cancellation, saying —

“I was to have been on QVC today to introduce my book, “Prime Time,” about aging and the life cycle. The network said they got a lot of calls yesterday criticizing me for my opposition to the Vietnam War and threatening to boycott the show if I was allowed to appear. I am, to say the least, deeply disappointed that QVC caved to this kind of insane pressure by some well funded and organized political extremist groups. And that they did it without talking to me first.

I have never shied away from talking about this as I have nothing to hide. . . I love my country. I have never done anything to hurt my country or the men and women who have fought and continue to fight for us. I do not understand what the far right stands to gain by continuing with these myths. I am deeply grateful for all of the support I have been getting since this happened, including from my Vietnam Veterans friends.”

QVC is about making money – initially they thought an appearance on their cable-shopping network by Jane Fonda would register as sales. However, when faced with the possible boycott of their shopping channel (translated that could mean loss of revenue), QVC bowed to the pressure and cancelled Fonda’s appearance. According to many who support Fonda, QVC’s decision was based on demands from conservative political groups. Was this the right call by QVC to cancel Fonda’s appearance?

We preach forgiveness to our children but what about Jane Fonda . . . is forgiveness possible for her.

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  1. Forgiveness is possible, but only if there’s contrition on her part. She did indeed hurt our troops during the Vietnam war because she provided fodder for the Communist propaganda machine. Imagine Rita Hayworth sitting in a Nazi tank during WWII and smiling with the Gestapo members. That’s what Fonda did. If she doesn’t even concede that, then I see the problem. I do think it’s been a long time now, but since she sees no problem with what she did, I get the continued outrage by some.

  2. I was going to say that I believed Fonda had apologized for her actions, but then I saw the following from her statement:

    “I have never done anything to hurt my country or the men and women who have fought and continue to fight for us.”

    Apparently Fonda still believes she did nothing wrong. Whether she wants to believe it or not, her actions did hurt the men and women who were fighting in Vietnam, as expressed in the past by those men and women.

    Is this somewhat silly so many years later? Yes. But I think Sara hit it on the head: contrition seems to be lacking and so forgiveness will as well.

  3. I purchase quite a bit from QVC, but no more. Their cancellation of Jane Fonda’s appearance to promote a product QVC is selling is pathetic. Her political views, past and present, are totally irrelevant in this situation – her book is about aging. What she did or didn’t do or say almost 40 years ago has no bearing on her current career and really smacks of corporate censorship.

    I don’t care for many of the “celebrities” who appear on QVC, but I turn the channel and/or don’t buy their products. Isn’t that the rational, grown-up response to this type of situation?

    By caving in to extremists who are so sure that only they know what is right for our country, QVC has positioned itself as a political entity – I hope it is prepared for just as much backlash from sensible, tolerant people who believe Ms. Fonda was treated inappropriately and unprofessionally.

    Suppose some viewers objected to QVC’s frequent guest, Marie Osmond, because of her Mormon beliefs? What would her religious faith have to do with selling dolls? This is the same situation with Jane Fonda – her political actions and beliefs have nothing to do with selling a wellness book.

    1. It’s fairly obvious that you weren’t in VietNam. I was and it does matter that when one of your own countrymen turn on you and give aid to the enemy. Why don’t you do a bit of research on what the traitor did to spark such an outcry. My wife buys a lot from QVC, but this isn’t stopping her from continuing her support of the company or channel. As for the other comments about the other celebraties. They didn’t turn their backs on our servicemen & women. She’s a traitor to this country and for which it stands for. Her political views aren’t the issue here. As the saying goes. “God Forgives, Moms & Dads don’t”.

    2. Jeffrey Kuhner of The Washington Times wrote an engaging piece on Tuesday. The ending paragraph states:

      “Her treasonous behavior and shameful past are why viewers did not want Ms. Fonda on QVC. This boycott should continue until she stops peddling the false image of a misunderstood, aggrieved and noble peace activist. There was nothing noble in what she or her fellow radicals did. Just ask the people of Vietnam.”

      The link to the full article:

  4. We all truly need to get a life. I remember 35 or so years ago being advised not to use a credit card if I bought Jane Fonda’s exercise tapes…..because of her then husband Tom Hayden. Like finding out that the DVDs you rented stay with your digital history…. (Clarence Thomas hearings?)

    QVC made a decision and responded to public feedback. “Just a Thought” wants to influence them in the other direction. Here’s the bottom line — it’s both sides of an issue. Sounds like politics influences everything — either the “extremists who are so sure” were going to boycott QVC, or “sensible, tolerant people” are going to.

    Somewhere, they are doing calculations about which are their target audience. Like every company does every day.

    But this is interesting to read responses.

  5. She committed treason. She was never punished for her escapades, nor was she ever remorseful. No one seems to stop her doing her thing or punishing her.
    That said, so many still feel she did not behave like an American whose fellow countrymen were at war.
    No I don’t forgive her. Too many friends didn’t come home from Nam. I’m not Fonda Jane.

  6. seems to me it doesn’t matter what she is currently selling, only that she did commit treason. It was reprehensible, and it is about her, no one else. Goodbye Hanoi Jane.

  7. I thought she was hot in “Barbarella.” But, yeah, she’s a traitor. You don’t see me straddling Al-Qaeda anti-aircraft guns, do ya?

  8. I am a card-holding customer of QVC.
    I have no desire at all to buy or read your book had you been on. You have the money and the time to look the way you do. How is anyone supposed to relate to your lifestyle? Instead of writing a book, why not read one? Preferably an American history book.
    Obviously, you show no remorse for your treasonous actions and blatant un-Americanism during a time of war, so no, I cannot forgive you. And may I say that aside from being a good citizen and a patriotic American I am not a member of any radical or extremist (hah! you should talk) group.
    I am still not Fonda Jane.

  9. I met a former “guest” of the Hanoi hilton, and after hearing his story and sharing his feeling about his experiences, I can truly say that I will never support any company that assists, endorses, supports or otherwise aids the traitor Jane Fonda. I love my country, and it is not a left wing right wing thing…it is about being a Patriot and not using ones celebrity status to promote and support an enemy of the United States. She, through her actions 40 years ago became an enemy of the USA, and therefore, I am not fonda Jane either.

    All she needs to do is get on her knees and publicly ask for forgiveness from the Veterans of the Vietnam War and admit that her words and actions where wrong and in poor taste. If she can’t, then she can continue to be Hanoi Jane forever.

  10. These responses to my post don’t make me angry – they make me sad. So many people have so much hate in them – I guess there is no room in their lives for forgiveness or understanding. I bow to your moral superiority and perfect lives.

    For the record – I have supported the military my entire life. My father was a career army officer, my brothers both served, my nephew returned from Iraq 3 months ago. I had many close friends who were deployed to Vietnam and two of them never returned. I can also waive the flag just as high as anyone else.

    How arrogant of some people to assume that just because I don’t think that QVC should react to pressure from the political (or religious) beliefs of a particular segment of its customer base, that I am unpatriotic, uniformed, etc.. I would say the same thing if we were talking about people boycotting the company because they were promoting a book that Dick Cheney wrote about Abu-Ghrab!

    1. Just A Thought:

      The problem is that Jane Fonda has never apologized for her actions.

      You say that some of the other posters have “so much hate in them”. I read their comments and do not see the over-the-top hatred that you claim they have. By contrast, I see that you called them “extremists” in one of your earlier Postings.

      Perhaps your characterization of them would be accurate if Jane Fonda had said she was sorry for her actions and people refused to forgive her.

      However, Jane Fonda has not apologized for her conduct in North Vietnam. In fact, in a 60 Minutes interview on March 31, 2005, Jane Fonda reiterated that she had no regrets about her trip to North Vietnam in 1972, with the exception of the anti-aircraft gun photo.

      Jane Fonda was not someone who protested the War in America. Instead, she went to an enemy country while it was at war with our country and while it was keeping U.S. servicemen confined in deplorable living conditions in their prison camps.

      While our servicemen were being beaten and starved, Jane Fonda made ten radio broadcasts from North Vietnam in which she denounced American political and military leaders as “war criminals”.

      Later, when cases of torture began to emerge among POWs returning to the United States, Jane Fonda called the returning POWs “hypocrites and liars”. She added, “[t]hese were not men who had been tortured. These were not men who had been starved. These were not men who had been brainwashed.”

      On the subject of torture in general, Jane Fonda told The New York Times in an April 7, 1973 article that: “I’m quite sure that there were incidents of torture … but the pilots who were saying it was the policy of the Vietnamese and that it was systematic, I believe that’s a lie.” Jane Fonda further stated that the POWs were “military careerists and professional killers” who are “trying to make themselves look self-righteous, but they are war criminals according to the law”.

      Given her outrageous conduct and statements, coupled with her continued lack of remorse, I can see why some folks might still be upset with her and may not want a local company like QVC hawking her books.

      Peace Out

    2. Dear Just

      I hear your disappointment, but I wonder if you really understood the depth of pain she caused people 40 years ago. Having said that, I again remind you that QVC is a retailer. They make decisions about what to sell based on their target audience. You said you would boycott them because they kept Fonda off the air. Others said (up front) that they would boycott QVC if they let her ON the air. I see your response as moral indignation. I see the other side as having deep feelings about that war and what Jane Fonda did during it. But regardless — it is not hat that others feel. It is anger. That’s very different. She hurt people and knew she hurt people. You are said to live in a country where people carry grudges?
      Regardless — your classifying the anti-Fonda calls as extremist has turned out to be wrong I think . I don’t imagine that the average Community Matters poster walks around with pro-war signs, or all Vietnam vets. It’s an educated group — with opinions borne out of experience, not just reaction. Perhaps YOUR view should be tempered by a better understanding of what these people feel about her.

      If QVC heard from the kinds of people who are posting here, which would seem a small population, I think they made the correct decision.

  11. just a thought, I didn’t see where anyone here said you are unpatriotic (new favored buzzword). You are entitled you your opinion as everyone else. I am impressed with your enlightened attitude though. Boycotts and the right of people and yes, private enterprise, or whats left of it are entitled to call their own shots on things like this. If QVC didn’t allow black or jewish enterprises to sell their wares then it is a different story. But pressure or not, QVC is an entity like Champion sports that needs to protect their branding and I think they were right about this dirty, vial person.
    So thats MY opinion. To each his own

    Hey is john Petersen in exile?

  12. Why are we deluded into thinking that actors know anything about anything? Actors are folks who are good at pretending. That’s it. That doesn’t give them any special insights on politics, or government, or war. We shouldn’t invest them with this prosthelytizing power to make such pronouncements.

    We have the power to ignore Charlie Sheen, Sean Penn, Whoopi Goldberg, Mel Gibson, Tom Hanks, Jane Fonda, et al. They’re all just wooden-headed actors who are lost without someone else’s words in their mouths.

  13. Thanks everyone for taking the time to explain your thoughts on this matter – I spend a lot of time trying to understand issues from all sides since I live in a country of free-thinkers (I hope!).

    I don’t think I explained my thoughts very well – I really was not trying to defend Jane Fonda’s statements during the Vietnam era – to me they were, at best, naive and simplistic and at worst, harmful to American soldiers.

    The point I was trying to make is that I don’t think corporations should bow to political pressures from different segments of our population. Are all of our companies going to eventually end up like the news media? – Fox for one population, MSNBC for another, etc., etc.

    However, saying I was going to boycott QVC over this was foolish – I do like their jewelry and clothes!

    1. I’m impressed at your clarity Just. And happy that you saw your suggestion of boycotting as simply the same thing that QVC responded to. In fact, I imagine they expect people to be upset — and simply had to weight which group would be more upset.

      Having said that — corporations daily have to make decisions about their image and their support. We vote with our dollars, so they court us. Media is sadly different — but again, we vote with our dollars. Fox draws a large audience….and the hardest part is that the audience is so well organized. Than again, passion tends to bring people together. The whole co untry flew and wore flags after 9/11. United. Seems not as much unites us nowadays as divides us.

  14. and then there is the reverse, where community activists try to keep out a private business… Walmart in NYC. WOuld only alleviate some of the high unemployment for that middle class that politicians want to protect.ALl businesses have rules and regulations for their employees so as to not offend the great majority of their customers, patients or clients. But maybe I am running off topic a bit.

  15. If all Jane Fonda did was to speak out against the war, then I would say it is high time to forgive and forget. But she went way beyond just opposing the war – she showed extremely poor judgment (to say the least) in allowing herself to be used as a propaganda tool by the enemy in a time of war.

    She should never have to apologize for her anti-war views, and for speaking out in support of those views. That is her right as an American. Lots of thoughtful, intelligent, partiotic and courageous Americans opposed that war on a variety of grounds. But she should apologize for her behavior in North Vietnam.

    I can certainly understand why Vietnam veterans and their familes find it very hard to let this go, particularly when Jane has apparently never really issued a truly sincere apology for the incident. (again, not regarding her political beliefs, but her cavorting for the cameras with the enemy).

  16. This is just smart marketing…pure and simple. QVC knows its customers, and they have sophisticated demographics. I would not be surprised if the bulk of their customer base was in conservative-leaning areas and that they had a substantial number of customers who either fought in or had a friend/family member fight in Vietnam. (A cynic might even think they invited her JUST so they could get publicity when they decided to rescind her invite.)

    If Fonda were a draw for their main demographic,they wouldn’t have caved to the pressure. They may have wanted to use her to attract a new demographic or increase brand loyalty with her fans. But it’s a marketing move– not a political move– to pull her if it alienates their most loyal customers.

    As a public company, QVC needs to do what’s in its best economic interests. Other companies that appeal to more liberal-leaning audiences would pull a conservative from an appearance if there were pressure, and again that’s an economic decision on their part too.

  17. Jane put this on her blog this week — does anyone have any information about when or where she has apologized for 40 years??

    This was posted on Jane’s blog:
    Jane, if you’re so innocent, why don’t you invite your accusers to a televised sit down, face to face question and answer session. Whether these accusations are true or not it will either prove you are guilty as charged or innocent as you claim.

    Her response:

    Dear Sir, do you really think that if I was “guilty as charged” the Nixon Administration would not have tried me? I have gone into the archives, I have read how hard that administration tried, how they pressured the Justice Department, to find something to try me for and they couldn’t. You may not agree with me but I never broke the law or did anything treasonous. I will soon post a detailed blog about exactly what went on during my trip. I would like to believe you are a man who can hear the truth and realize that your assumptions have been misplaced. It seems there are a few vocal extremists who, for whatever reason, cannot move from their place of hate. I feel badly for them because it is they, not I, who suffer as a result. Perhaps they need a focus for their hate because they are unable to accept the facts about who was really responsible for the war, the killings, the lies. At least Robert McNamara had the guts to admit “they” were wrong about the war. I thanked him personally for his courage. Few of the others who were architects of that war have had the guts to admit their mistakes. I have admitted mine: I was photographed in a North Vietnamese gun site. It was not active, there were no planes overhead, no American soldiers were harmed because of this, but it represented a total lack of judgement and it is something I will die regretting. I have apologized repeatedly for almost 40 years for this act on my part. I will be writing more about this soon.”

    Wow– when will we all start caring about why all the honeybees are gone, and why the bugs are ruining the outdoors (dead bats?) and not about Jane Fonda?

  18. Fonda would do better to sell her books or whatever in Vietnam. Now there’s a smart marketing move.

  19. One might be able to forgive although not forget until you go back an re-read some of the information.

    “While American Soldiers were fighting and dying in the Vietnam War, Jane Fonda, the daughter of Henry Fonda, was using her money and influence at colleges and universities to gather support to advocate communism and encourage rebellion and anarchy against the United States Government.”

    On November 21, 1970 she told a University of Michigan audience of some two thousand students, “If you understood what communism was, you would hope, you would pray on your knees that we would some day become communist.” At Duke University in North Carolina she repeated what she had said in Michigan, adding “I, a socialist, think that we should strive toward a socialist society, all the way to communism. ” Washington Times July 7, 2000″.

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