Accuracy in Media

Jane Fonda is back as Hanoi Jane. You may recall that during the Vietnam War she told a student audience that Americans would someday get down on their knees and pray that our country would go communist. She went to Hanoi and was photographed perched on the seat of an anti-aircraft gun pretending to be shooting down American pilots attacking Communist North Vietnam. Several years ago, Jane sort of apologized to Vietnam veterans, but she has now helped inflict on us another anti-American Vietnam film shown on HBO on June 3 and is scheduled to be re-aired on June 7th, 10th and 18th.

Ten years ago, Fonda Films bought the screen rights to a book about Vietnam titled, “A Bright Shining Lie.” It didn’t get into production until last year, when HBO got involved and spent $13 million to make it into a made-for-TV movie. HBO is owned by Time Warner, whose vice chairman, Ted Turner, is Jane Fonda’s husband. The movie is a throwback to the 1960’s and ?70’s, when the United States and our military forces were regarded as the enemy by people like Jane Fonda.

In those days, photos of Vietnamese monks burning themselves to death and of a little girl running naked down a road after having been burned by napalm had a powerful impact on American public opinion. Everyone saw the photos. Few knew the real stories behind them. Those stories have been known for thirty years or more. The monks who burned themselves to death were actually victims of a cruel propaganda campaign designed by a highly politicized Buddhist group that was trying to overthrow the anti-Communist government of South Vietnam.

The monks were given pills that were supposed to make the immolation painless. The events were coordinated with foreign journalists and photographers in Vietnam to insure that they were photographed and the horrifying pictures were seen throughout the world. The HBO-Jane Fonda movie, lies about all this. It presents the immolations as totally spontaneous events which American reporters happen upon by chance. It even shows the Buddhists trying to prevent photographers from taking pictures. It does not reveal that two investigations showed that there was no truth to the charge that the Vietnamese government was persecuting Buddhists.

The dramatic photo of the young girl fleeing from a napalm attack is represented as an example of the American military using napalm to attack Vietnamese civilians. The true story is that the Vietcong had occupied a village and the South Vietnamese army was preparing an attack to recapture it. A Vietnamese pilot was told that all the inhabitants of the village had fled. That turned out to be incorrect. The napalm was dropped as a result of an unfortunate mistake by Vietnamese.

An American veteran who claimed that he ordered the strike has been exposed as a fraud. These are only two of the many lies we found in this HBO film. They are not bright and shining. They are old and rotten. Jane Fonda, Time Warner and HBO deserve your censure for spreading them again.

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