By Merle L. Pribbenow
Last month, actress Jane Fonda published an article on her website titled “My Trip to Hanoi.” In the article Ms. Fonda tried to explain her two-week visit to Hanoi during the summer of 1972—and by doing so, dispel all the “slanderous” internet rumors and accusations of “treason” that have been made against her because of her actions during that trip.
Why address this old controversy now? Because a few days earlier, the television shopping network QVC, after receiving many protests, had abruptly canceled a scheduled appearance by Ms. Fonda to promote her new self-help memoir. So the article was intended to set the record straight. The Oscar-winning actress did offer an apology of sorts (really more of an excuse than an apology) for the famous photograph of her manning a North Vietnamese anti-aircraft gun. But the bulk of the article was a defense of the trip and her motivations.
No one but Ms. Fonda can know what her true motivations were, but it is clear that the North Vietnamese exploited her for their own propaganda purposes. She would have been an idiot, which clearly she is not, to have assumed that they would try to do anything less.
One of the strongest charges lodged against Ms. Fonda has been that she was acting as a North Vietnamese agent when she took these actions, and therefore was guilty of treason. If that was the case, then she would presumably have been acting under instructions from a North Vietnamese official, probably a North Vietnamese intelligence officer. The next logical question, then, is whether Ms. Fonda had contacts with North Vietnamese intelligence.