Facts are under assault in 2020.

We can't fight back misinformation about the election and COVID-19 without you. Support trusted, factual information with a tax deductible contribution to PolitiFact

More Info

I would like to contribute

Ciara O'Rourke
By Ciara O'Rourke October 30, 2019

No evidence Barbara Walters said this about Jane Fonda

Actress Jane Fonda was recently arrested during a climate change protest, perhaps inspiring Facebook users to share an old message about her history as a Vietnam War objector. 

The long Aug. 13 post, which details allegations about Fonda that other fact-checkers have debunked, begins: "Barbara Walters writes: Unfortunately, many have forgotten and still countless others have never known how Ms. Fonda betrayed not only the idea of our country, but specific men who served and sacrificed during the Vietnam War."  

This post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.) 

The text in the post has, with some variations, been circulating online for about two decades. FactCheck.org fact-checked it in November 2010. Snopes tackled it in June 2000. 

That’s about a year after Barbara Walters hosted a special for ABC News that aired on April 30, 1999, called, "A Celebration: 100 Years of Great Women." Fonda was one of the women selected by the Ladies Home Journal as one of the 100 most important women of the 20th century. 

Featured Fact-check

Walters described Fonda at different points in her life as a sex kitten, an activist and a wife. She said Fonda stopped acting in the 1990s and "now spends much of her time on her favorite cause, preventing teenage pregnancy."

She doesn’t say what the Facebook post attributes to her. She also didn’t say it in 1988, when she interviewed Fonda, who apologized for her participation in being photographed while seated in a North Vietnamese anti-aircraft gun in 1972, according to an ABC News transcript we found in the Nexis news archive. 

"Jane Fonda told me that she now realizes in her urgent desire to end the war, she unthinkingly caused pain to many Americans who fought in Vietnam," Walters said. "In our interview tonight, she speaks directly to former prisoners of war, to Vietnam veterans and their families. And confronting her past, she then apologizes." 

Searching Nexis further, we couldn’t find evidence that Walters said or wrote the statement that appears in the Facebook post. There were no results when we searched Newspapers.com. Looking online we couldn’t find a credible source connecting Walters to the viral message either. 

We rate this post False. 

Our Sources

Facebook post, Aug. 13, 2019

New York Times, Jane Fonda arrested during climate protest outside U.S. Capitol, Oct. 11, 2019

Snopes, Did Jane Fonda Betray American POWs in North Vietnam? June 21, 2000

FactCheck.org, Blame Jane falsehoods, Nov. 22, 2010

Truth or Fiction, Jane Fonda supported the enemy in Vietnam and her conduct got American POWs killed- Truth! And Fiction! March 17, 2015

Fox News, Fox 411: "Hanoi Jane": An urban myth re-examined, Jan. 31, 2001

ABC News transcript of "A Celebration: 100 Years of Great Women," April 30, 1999

ABC News transcript, June 17, 1988

Oregonian, Jane Fonda’s sorry about Hanoi picture, June 17, 1988

Browse the Truth-O-Meter

More by Ciara O'Rourke

No evidence Barbara Walters said this about Jane Fonda

Support independent fact-checking.
Become a member!

In a world of wild talk and fake news, help us stand up for the facts.

Sign me up