Megyn Kelly baits Jane Fonda with controversial statement: 'It's time to address the "poor me" routine'

Elise Solé

Megyn Kelly is striking back at Jane Fonda over claims that she ambushed the actress with a plastic surgery interview question, in a controversial new statement about Fonda’s “‘poor me’ routine.”

First, a brief primer on the feud: In September, Fonda and Robert Redford appeared on Megyn Kelly Today to promote their new Netflix film Our Souls at Night. During the chat, Kelly said to the 80-year-old actress, “You admit you’ve had work done, which I think is to your credit. But you look amazing. … I read that you said you’re not proud to say you’ve had work done. Why not?”

Fonda appeared flabbergasted and replied, “We really want to talk about that right now?”

Fonda has since slammed Kelly, most recently at Utah’s Sundance Film Festival. While discussing her new film Jane Fonda in Five Acts, the actress remarked that she would, indeed, return to the show. “No. It wasn’t like I was upset,” she said to Variety. “I was stunned. It was so inappropriate. It showed that she’s not that good an interviewer. But if she comes around and learns her stuff, sure.”

Megyn Kelly, left, is responding to backlash over her plastic surgery question to Jane Fonda. (Photo: Getty Images)

And Jan. 16, while appearing on Today with her Frankie and Grace co-star Lily Tomlin, Fonda further dug at Kelly. When co-hosts Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb asked the pair how long they’ve been friends, Fonda replied, “Fifty years, a long time.” When Tomlin said, “I think before your first face-lift!” Fonda replied, “Who are you, Megyn Kelly?”

Less than a week later, on Monday, Kelly, who had stayed silent on the matter, devoted three minutes of her show to address the drama. She first defended her question as reasonable within the bounds of journalism principles but then inexplicably veered into an off-the-rails hit piece deemed “divisive” and “vindictive” on Twitter.

“And now a word on Jane Fonda, who appears to be fixated on an exchange I had with her months ago on this show,” said Kelly in the monologue. “When she first complained — publicly —  after the program, and repeatedly, I chose to say nothing, as my general philosophy is, what people think of me is none of my business. However, Fonda was at it again last week, including here on NBC, and then again elsewhere, so it’s time to address the ‘poor me’ routine.”

Kelly continued, “First, some context. Fonda was on to promote a film about aging. For years she has spoken openly about her joy in giving a cultural face to older women. Well, the truth is, most older women look nothing like Fonda, who is now 80. And if Fonda really wants to have an honest discussion about older women’s cultural face, then her plastic surgery is tough to ignore. Fonda herself knows this. And that is why, to her credit, she has discussed her cosmetic surgery pretty much everywhere before coming on our show.”

Kelly then cut to a sequence of Fonda’s past interviews in which the actress claims, “Last year I had plastic surgery, and I have been very public about it,” “I didn’t want to look kind of tired and jowly anymore,” and “I just decided — and I’m not proud of it — I decided I wanted to look more how I feel.”

Kelly said, “Apparently when [Fonda] came here, however, again to promote her film about aging, I was supposed to discern that this subject was suddenly off-limits. Look, 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. That’s OK. But I have no regrets about that question, nor am I in the market for a lesson from Jane Fonda on what is and is not appropriate.”

Had Kelly’s statement ended there, she may have endeared herself to people on the internet (some of whom did agree with the host). But she then took a turn into “nasty” and “inappropriate” territory.

“After all, this is a woman whose name is synonymous with outrage,” Kelly continued. “Look at her treatment of our military during the Vietnam War. Many of our veterans still call her ‘Hanoi Jane,’” referring to Fonda’s 1972 trip to Vietnam, where she was photographed with soldiers in North Vietnam, despite the United States’ support of the South. In 2013, Fonda told Oprah that the image, which earned her the name “traitor,” was an “unforgivable mistake.”

“Thanks to [Fonda’s] radio broadcast which attempted to shame American troops,” said Kelly, “she posed on an anti-aircraft gun used to shoot down our American pilots. She called our POWs ‘hypocrites and liars’ and referred to their torture as ‘understandable.’ Even she had to apologize years later for that gun picture — but not for the rest of it.”

The talk show host added, “By the way, she still says she is not proud of America. So, the moral indignation is a little much. She put her plastic surgery out there. She said she wanted to discuss the plight of older women in America. And honestly, she has no business lecturing anyone on what qualifies as offensive.”

Kelly’s speech has created further waves for her talk show. Last week, a staffer was reportedly fired after complaints that the show was a “toxic and demeaning environment”; and in September, Kelly clashed with guest Debra Messing over a joke about a gay fan emulating a Will and Grace character.

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