In Hollywood, rage + PR = $$$

Tessa Thompson

On Tuesday we discusses the politically engaged actress Tessa Thompson and her definitive movie project, Dear White People (2014), a story about black students at an Ivy League college that Time Out hailed for its “rage.”

Needless to say, Dear White People was a story of oppression. The only real difference between 12 Years a Slave and Dear White People, you see, is that college takes only four years. 

Tessa, the thinker

The Chicago Tribune pretty much agreed with Time Outs praise for the movie’s rage, but put it more simply: “Dear White People isn’t perfect. And yet the flaws really don’t matter.” Of course not – not when you’re dealing with racial rage! Toss out the critics’ notepads, bring on the awards! Neatly skirting the question of aesthetic merit, A.O. Scott of the New York Times took a similar line, instructing his readers: “You want to see this movie, and you will want to talk about it afterward, even if the conversation feels a little awkward. If it doesn’t, you’re doing it wrong.” (Scott didn’t promise – note well – that readers would actually enjoy the movie.) Not to be outdone by these other outlets, Ann Hornaday of the Washington Post gave a thumbs-up to the film’s celebration of dormitory segregation, an arrangement that, Hornaday maintained, provides “solidarity and protection.” 

Tessa in a $12,500 Gucci dress (“available at select Gucci stores nationwide and gucci.com”)

As noted, Tessa Thompson loved Dear White People. In 2016, she told The Cut that it was “an indictment of Hollywood,” where young black actresses often get cast as “the sassy black friend.” Never mind that the film was distributed by Lionsgate, a major Hollywood player. In any event, while Thompson felt she was rebelling against Hollywood, she wasn’t interested in rebelling against Hollywood-style PR: for the article in The Cut, she posed in a $3,200 Marc Jacobs sweater, a $2,208 Marc Jacobs skirt, an $11,500 Michael Kors dress, a $3,590 Ralph Lauren dress, and a $12,500 Gucci dress. Talk about overcoming!

Thompson has continued to fight the intrepid fight against The Man – not only in the name of blacks but in the name of women. In October 2017, she told the New York Daily News that she’d pitched “an all-female Marvel movie” to the head of Marvel Movies. In January, she celebrated the Time’s Up campaign against sexual abuse by posting on social media a picture of herself with such female stars as Laura Dern and Brie Larson.

Lena Dunham (dress price unavailable at press time)

And that’s where the trouble started. Also in the picture, as it happened, was Lena Dunham, who until recently was the very personification of young American women’s empowerment. But in these Reign of Terror-like times, when today’s feminist heroine can tomorrow be sent to the gallows, Dunham had become persona non grata in the Time’s Up crowd after she defended a writer of her TV series, Girls, from rape accusations. When Dunham, too, shared the picture on social media, it was Thompson who called her out, telling the world that while she and the other women in the photo had spent two months working on the Time’s Up campaign, Dunham had played no part in their activities. The plain implication was that Dunham was trying to take credit for other women’s feminist labors.  

Sweater, $3200; skirt, $2208

After receiving some backlash for her assault on the previously untouchable Dunham, Thompson apologized. Then, after a number of women spoke up on Thompson’s behalf, many of them complaining that the women’s movement still privileges white women, Thompson revisited her apology, saying that she hadn’t really meant to apologize for calling out Dunham but had intended rather “to re-center the conversation” around the fact that many women of color “don’t feel safe and seen.” 

The Dunham dustup made a lot of news, but it wasn’t even Tessa’s biggest event  in January. Also in that month, Variety featured this spectacular headline: “Jane Fonda, Gloria Allred, Tessa Thompson Slam Trump at Sundance Women’s Rally.”

Jane Fonda at the Sundance Women’s Rally

Forget her acting career: Thompson has made it into the Holy Trinity of Twenty-first Century Feminism, along with Hollywood’s favorite multiple Oscar-winning socialist billionaire (Fonda) and California’s leading anti-patriarchy shakedown artist (Allred). Eat her dust, Dunham! Tessa’s the new reigning princess of Hollywood feminism. Why, after all, should the face of feminism be white?

This, of course, is what happens when group identity takes center stage: as sure as night follows day, the white woman shaking her fist on the anti-male barricades is destined to be knocked off her perch by a woman of color. But after that, how long will it take before she, in turn, is dethroned by a black lesbian or a disabled Muslim grandmother? Stay tuned.

Catching up with the selectively proud Hanoi Jane

That famous picture

Last year, as a service to young people who were born long after Jane Fonda (she’s an elderly movie actress, ICYDK) made a fool of herself in Vietnam, we revisited that reprehensible 1972 incident, when – in the midst of a proxy war between her own country and its totalitarian foes – she traveled to North Vietnam, chummed around with its soldiers, read their propaganda aloud on the radio for an audience of American servicemen, praised the murderous North Vietnamese dictator Ho Chi Minh, called U.S. troops war criminals, urged members of the U.S. Air Force to disobey orders, and (last but not least) had her picture taken on an anti-aircraft battery.

Fraternizing with the enemy

Fonda has claimed innumerable times that the last-named action, which earned her the nickname “Hanoi Jane,” was “a two-minute lapse of sanity that will haunt me forever.” But it was more than a matter of just two minutes. And it was no lapse. At the time of her visit, Fonda was already a dyed-in-the-wool antagonist of her own nation and an outspoken friend of totalitarian Communism. “If you understood what communism was,” she told an audience in 1970, “you would hope, you would pray on your knees that we would some day become communist.” In her extensive whitewash of the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong, Fonda lied about their brutal treatment of American POWs – and then, after those POWs returned home and called her a liar, she had the nerve to call them liars. In more recent years, she’s taken part in Communist-led rallies, shared stages with Saddam Hussein’s chum George Galloway, vilified Israel, and said that her “biggest regret” was that she “never got to fuck Che Guevara.”

With Ted Turner. Communism pays off!

As we pointed out last year, authors Henry Mark Holzer and Erika Holzer published a whole book in 2002 in which they showed that Fonda’s actions in Vietnam amounted to treason. In Fonda’s own 2005 memoir she rewrote the whole episode, depicting herself as a tribune of peace rather than a Communist traitor. Of course, she’s a Communist traitor with a difference: for ten years, she was married to CNN honcho Ted Turner, one of the most powerful men in America as well as America’s largest private landowner. So she’s not just a world-class Communist; she’s a world-class Communist hypocrite.

Giving Megyn Kelly the evil eye earlier this month, in response to a question about plastic surgery

Since we dropped in on Hanoi Jane last year, she’s been in the news several times. At the Emmy Awards, on September 17, she and Lily Tomlin, with whom she appears in a Netflix series, Grace and Frankie, joined in calling President Trump “a sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot.” (Their 9 to 5 co-star Dolly Parton, standing onstage between them, looked distinctly uncomfortable.) But that was relatively nothing. Later Fonda made headlines when, on The Today Show, Megyn Kelly dared to ask her about plastic surgery. Well, Fonda may believe in Communism, but it’s clear she also believes that the entertainment-media serfs shouldn’t dare pose certain questions to cinema royalty such as herself. She shot Kelly a look that could kill.

Tomlin, Dolly Parton, and Fonda at the 2017 Emmys

But let’s set that aside too, and move on to earlier this month, when she sat down for an interview with the BBC. Asked whether she was “proud of America today,” she replied with a quick, firm “no.” But, she added, “I’m proud of the resistance. I’m proud of the people who are turning out in unprecedented numbers and continue over and over and over again to protest what Trump is doing.” The topic of Vietnam came up – and again the lies came out. Rejecting the idea that she had been “siding with the enemy,” she claimed that after being photographed on that anti-aircraft battery, she’d thought: “Oh my gosh. It’s going to look like I am against my own country’s soldiers and siding with the enemy, which is the last thing in the world that was true.” Fonda is 79 now; presumably she will continue to promote this lie until she dies.

Still fabulous. And still dishonest!

But that wasn’t all. She actually tried to sell the idea that her trip had helped save “two million people who could have died of famine and drowning.” We don’t remember hearing her make this claim before. Fonda still looks fabulous, but perhaps the years are taking their toll on the old noggin. Or maybe it’s just another example of Celebrity Narcissism Syndrome, the symptoms of which do tend to intensify as time goes by. In any case, here’s her logic: “The United States was bombing the dikes in North Vietnam….If the dikes had given way, according to Henry Kissinger, somewhere around 2 million people could have died of famine and drowning. And we were bombing, and it wasn’t being talked about. And I thought, ‘Well, I’m a celebrity. Maybe if I go, and I bring back evidence.’ And it did stop two months after I got back, so I’m proud that I went.”

Another recent glamour shot

As far as we can tell, there aren’t any serious historians who feel that Fonda had anything to do with an end to the U.S. bombings. On the other hand, her visit didn’t exactly enhance American morale, and it could be that, in the long term, Fonda’s PR job for the enemy helped tip the balance toward ultimate U.S. withdrawal. But if you’re going to make that argument, you’re going to have to give Fonda a share of the responsibility for the fact that after the U.S. pulled out of Indochina, the Viet Cong murdered tens of thousands of South Vietnamese and the Khmer Rouge exterminated 1.5 to three million Cambodians. Are you proud of that, Jane?

Tom Hayden’s “social conscience”

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The young Tom Hayden

When Tom Hayden died on October 23, the mainstream-media obituaries made him sound like a prince among men. The Associated Press called him “an enduring voice against war” and “a prolific writer and lecturer advocating for reform of America’s political institutions.” The Washington Post’s Elaine Woo described him as “one of the most articulate spokesmen of youthful angst” and as the “ideological lodestar of Students for a Democratic Society.” Hayden, Woo maintained, was a man of “deep social conscience.”

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With his then wife and co-conspirator, Jane Fonda

Some people would argue with that. Take Hayden’s position on the Vietnam War. He has routinely been described as an antiwar activist. In truth, he wasn’t against the war – he was on the other side. So fervently did he support the enemy, in fact, that he made multiple trips to Paris and elsewhere to meet with North Vietnamese and Viet Cong leaders, to whom he offered strategic and tactical advice – an unequivocal act of treason.

There’s more. He wrote a letter to a North Vietnamese officer, Colonel Lao, that closed with the words: “Good fortune! Victory!” While in North Vietnam, he and his then wife, Jane Fonda, recorded radio broadcasts consisting of nothing but Communist propaganda, knowing that these broadcasts would be used to try to brainwash captive GIs. When American POWs returned home and claimed to have been tortured, Hayden branded them liars. Then there was his and Fonda’s ardently pro-Communist film, Introduction to the Enemy, in which they confidently asserted that a win by the North Vietnamese would usher in a veritable utopia. 

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Joan Baez

The fact that the enemy’s victory led not to utopia but to genocide didn’t shake his Communist faith in the least. On the contrary: after the war, when antiwar songstress Joan Baez condemned the brutality of the victorious Communist regime, Hayden labeled her a CIA stooge. So trapped was he in his own ideological prison that when he returned to Vietnam decades after the war, Hayden was crushed to find that the Vietnamese people he met were drawn far more to American-style capitalism than to Marx.

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The Black Panthers

When he wasn’t committing treason by promoting the cause of the enemy, Hayden was up to no good at home. His New York Times obit, by Robert D. McFadden, stated that Hayden “opposed violent protests.” This is sheer revisionism, betraying either ignorance or mendacity on McFadden’s part. In fact Hayden spent much of the 1960s fomenting armed revolt in American cities. He championed the savage, cop-killing Black Panthers. “Perhaps the only forms of action appropriate to the angry people are violent,” Hayden said in 1967. “Perhaps a small minority, by setting ablaze New York and Washington, could damage this country forever in the court of world opinion. Urban guerrillas are the only realistic alternative at this time to electoral politics or mass armed resistance.” 

Inventing Julia

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Mary McCarthy on the Dick Cavett Show

“Every word she writes is a lie, including ‘and’ and ‘the,’” said novelist and critic Mary McCarthy on a 1981 telecast of the Dick Cavett Show. She was talking about her old literary acquaintance and political adversary, Lillian Hellman, the Stalinist playwright turned memoirist. After Hellman sued, Martha Gellhorn, who had been Ernest Hemingway’s third wife, rode to McCarthy’s rescue, devoting sixteen pages in an issue of Paris Review to a detailed takedown of Hellman’s purported autobiographical account of her adventures with Hemingway in Spain during the Spanish Civil War. When Gellhorn read Hellman’s account, she saw at once that it was sheer fiction. Because Gellhorn had been there.

Writer and correspondent Martha Gellhorn is shown in this undated photo. (AP Photo)
Martha Gellhorn

That wasn’t all. Comparing one of Hellman’s memoirs, An Unfinished Woman, with another, Pentimento, Gellhorn “discovered instances in which Hellman apparently had been able to be in three places at once: in the Moscow embassy, with Julia, her anti-fascist agent/friend in Vienna, and in Spain.”

There were also a number of details that Gellhorn, a sharp-eyed reporter, recognized as bogus – for example, “Hemingway and Hellman could not have stood on their balcony in Madrid watching the fireworks from bombing (as Hellman claimed) since the bombs in Spain did not give off light.” Gellhorn concluded that Hellman had spent three weeks in Spain, tops, and that if she’d witnessed any military action whatsoever, she hadn’t understood the first thing about it.

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Carl Rollyson

The most famous story in any of Hellman’s memoirs concerns her purported lifelong friendship with a woman she identified only as Julia. As Hellman told it in Pentimento, Julia joined the anti-Nazi underground while studying medicine at the University of Vienna; in 1937, she asked Hellman to smuggle a large sum of money into Germany to help save the lives of some of Hitler’s victims, and Hellman bravely agreed.

Then, in 1983, came a memoir, Code Name Mary, by another hand – Muriel Gardiner, an American psychiatrist. Her story was strikingly similar to Julia’s: while studying medicine at the University of Vienna in the late 1930s, she’d become active in the anti-Nazi underground. 

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Julia (1977): Jane Fonda as Hellman and Vanessa Redgrave as Julia

This raised a problem. Gardiner was a real person with a real history in the anti-Nazi underground. If there’d been another female American med student in Vienna who was also in the underground, surely (a) it would have been (to say the least) a remarkable coincidence and (b) the two women would have known each other. But Gardiner had never crossed paths with anybody who might have been the real-life Julia. Nor had she ever met Hellman.

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Hellman in a 1979 ad for Blackglama furs

But one person she did know was Wolf Schwabacher, a friend of  hers who also happened to be –guess what? – Hellman’s lawyer. Over the years, Schwabacher had told Gardiner a lot about Hellman; and after Gardiner’s book came out, it seemed painfully obvious that Schwabacher had also told Hellman a lot about Gardiner.

Despite widespread speculation to this effect in the media, however, Hellman insisted that she had never heard of Muriel Gardiner, and had absolutely not based Julia on her. Fiercely, Hellman stuck to her story: Julia had been a real person, a person whom she’d known and loved since they were girls together, and with whom she had collaborated in 1937 in a courageous anti-Nazi caper. And that was that.

But that wasn’t that. Whether Hellman liked it or not, the walls were beginning to crumble, the truth beginning to out. And people who understood Stalinism, and who were aware of the intimate relationship between Stalinist ideology and reflexive untruthfulness, were starting to get Hellman’s number. 

More tomorrow. 

Ted Turner’s fidelity to Fidel

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Ted Turner

We’ve been looking at the history of Ted Turner‘s friendship with Fidel Castro. Apropos of which, here’s an illuminating excerpt from a 2008 interview with Bill O’Reilly of Fox News:

O’REILLY: Fidel Castro, do you admire the man?

TURNER: Yes.

O’REILLY: Now he has murdered people. He’s imprisoned people. There are political prisoners now. He won’t let his people use the Internet. Nobody can use that. And you admire the guy?

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O’Reilly and Turner

TURNER: Well, I admire certain things about him. He’s trained a lot of doctors, and they’ve got one of the best educational systems in the developing world. And you know, he’s still popular with a lot of people down there. He’s unpopular…

O’REILLY: But he’s a killer. He’s a killer. He’s a guy who…

TURNER: But that has never, to my knowledge, that’s never been proven. I mean…

O’REILLY: He’s executed political prisoners. I mean, he enslaves people who don’t see it the way he sees it. Come on. He runs a dictatorship.

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Jane Fonda and Ted Turner

Later in the interview, O’Reilly brought up the fact that Turner and his wife Jane Fonda had been ardent opponents of U.S. involvement in Vietnam. O’Reilly told Turner that on a previous show he’d wondered aloud if it bothered Fonda that “after all your activism and getting America out of Vietnam…that 3 million human beings were slaughtered by the people that you were lionizing, the North Vietnam and the Khmer Rouge Communists who wouldn’t have been slaughtered if we stayed. And their skulls were stacked on top of each other.” O’Reilly added that he’d never received a response to his question from either Fonda or Turner. To which Turner replied: “You’ve got me. I didn’t really think about it. You know, it didn’t make the news very much.”

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Humberto Fontova

Yes, this is what the founder of CNN said about the murder of millions of people by the North Vietnamese and the Khmer Rouge: “it didn’t make the news very much.” And he hadn’t really given it much thought. 

After Turner’s interview with O’Reilly, exiled Cuban writer Humberto Fontova commented on Turner’s claim that it had “never been proven” that Fidel had killed anybody. “Even the Cuban revolution’s most die-hard apologists,” wrote Fontova,

have never made so transparently preposterous a claim, and for good reason. According to the Black Book of Communism, 14,000 men and boys had been executed in Cuba by 1964 – the equivalent of more than 3 million executions in the United States….Indeed, like al-Qaeda generations later, mass murder (often in public), was always key to the Communist quest for and maintenance of power. Communists have always wanted this to be known, as a means to intimidate opposition.

Also in 2008, Turner himself interviewed Castro on CNN. It may well be the feeblest interview ever conducted by anyone with a head of state. Castro made a series of absurd statements – for example, that during his presidency Cuba had always enjoyed total freedom of religion, and that his country’s economic problems were entirely the fault of the U.S. embargo. He also made outrageously exaggerated claims about Cuba’s medical and educational achievements. And Turner – who came across as totally uniformed and utterly credulous – didn’t challenge a word of it.

This year saw the publication of a new book, The Double Life of Fidel Castro, by a longtime Castro bodyguard. He revealed that Castro, who pretended to enjoy a simple life, actually had a secret island getaway where he had a “small port for a high-speed (42 knots!) luxury yacht, vacation home, floating bar/grille, mini-Sea World, etc.”

Only a very few select individuals were invited to visit the island. Among them was Ted Turner, who dutifully kept his comrade’s secret.

Ted Turner, Castro’s comrade

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Ted Turner

We’ve been looking at Ted Turner, the billionaire founder of CNN, ex-husband of Jane Fonda, and ardent (if not terribly skillful) apologist for one totalitarian government after another. Last time around we pondered his 2005 comments on North Korea, which can be best summed up in his eloquent remark: “let’s give ’em a break.”

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May Day parade in Cuba

On to Castro. Castro has been a good friend of Turner’s, and a big part of his career. Back when Turner started CNN, it mostly restricted its coverage to U.S. news. But in 1981, as Ken Auletta noted in a 2001 New Yorker profile, CNN covered Cuba’s May Day parade and a Castro speech. Castro, a CNN viewer – he picked up the signal from a south Florida station – invited Turner to visit. In 1982, Turner went, and spent four days with the dictator, “smoking cigars, attending a baseball game, duck hunting, visiting schools, discussing politics, and night-clubbing.” Turner told an associate, “Fidel ain’t a Communist. He’s a dictator, just like me.” Castro told Turner that he found CNN “invaluable.” Turner actually persuaded him to tape a CNN promo (which Turner’s colleagues back home managed to talk him out of airing). Fidel “urged Turner to take his news service worldwide,” reported Auletta. The idea excited Turner: “I thought, if Fidel Castro can’t live without it, we ought to be able to sell CNN all over the world.” “Ted came back fired up,” a colleague told Auletta. Within a few months CNN had expanded to Asia; in 1985, it debuted in Europe. All thanks to Fidel Castro, whom Turner reportedly thanked for welcoming him to his “very progessive country.” 

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Turner with Fidel Castro

Turner later showed an interviewer pictures of his 1982 Cuba trip, while providing a running commentary:

I’m the only man on the planet ever to fly on Cuba’s Air Force One with their president and on America’s Air Force One with our president….People are not all that different – all thi killing and arms race is for nothing. Here’s the great commie dictator we’re so worried about – having a hot toddy….Here’s us hunting….I expected Castro to be a horrible person, but he was a great guy.

turner9In 1997, eager to set up a CNN bureau in Havana, Turner gave Fidel a big thumbs-up in a speech at Harvard. “Castro is one helluva guy!” he exclaimed. “You people would like him! Most people in Cuba like him.” As one reporter noted: “Within weeks CNN was granted its coveted Havana Bureau, the first ever granted by Castro to a foreign network.” In December of that year, Turner and Fonda went to Havana to open the bureau and met with Castro, a move that didn’t exactly please Frank Calzon, head of the Center for a Free Cuba in Washington, D.C. Calzon’s group, according to one report, had tried “to persuade Turner to donate satellite dishes to Cuba so that Cuban citizens can watch CNN.” Of course, the Castro regime forbade the Cuban people from watching international television.

 That wasn’t Turner’s last meeting with Fidel: in 2000, Castro went to New York for a U.N. meeting and spent an entire night with Turner. “The dinner stretched past midnight,” reported Auletta, “and Castro was in the middle of a long-winded story when Turner raised his hand and exclaimed, ‘Fidel, this story is never going to end, is it? I got to go!’ Castro laughed as Turner exited.”

Ted Turner: pimping for Pyongyang

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Ted Turner

Ted Turner: founder of CNN, ex-husband of Jane Fonda, billionaire. Yesterday we looked at his hypocrisy about the environment (28 homes, a “Save the Planet” bumper sticker on his car) and about population growth (father of five kids, supporter of a proposal for an an internationally enforced one-child law). But now for the most sordid part of all – his lamentable tendency to defend totalitarians.

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The late Kim Jong-Il

Case in point: in 2005 Turner visited North Korea, and after returning to the U.S. shared his experiences and conclusions in a stunning interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. Describing himself as having “had a great time,” Turner said, apropos of a new arms deal: “I am absolutely convinced that the North Koreans are absolutely sincere. There’s really no reason – no reason for them to cheat.” When Blitzer pointed out that North Korea had violated similar deals before, Turner said: “I mean, you know, just because somebody’s done something wrong in the past doesn’t mean they can’t do right in the future or in the present.”

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The king in his kingdom

The transcript continues – but, before quoting it, let us just interject that we’ll be reproducing excerpts from this and one or two other interview transcripts at some length. Why? Because Ted Turner, for all his power and wealth and purported business savvy, has a special gift, in such conversations, of revealing just how staggeringly uninformed and unreflective he is on the subject of dictatorship. It’s as if he just can’t grasp the idea that foreign leaders who are chummy with him at a dinner table could possibly be guilty of doing anything terrible to anyone else. Anyway, back to his exchange with Blitzer:

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Mass “mourning” upon the death of Kim Jong-Il

BLITZER: But this is one of the most despotic regimes and Kim Jong Il is one of the worst men on Earth. Isn’t that a fair assessment?

TURNER: Well, I didn’t get, I didn’t get to meet him, but he didn’t look, in the pictures that I’ve seen of him on CNN, he didn’t look too much different than most other people.

BLITZER: But look at the way, look at the way he’s, look at the way he’s treating his own people.

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The DMZ

TURNER: Well, hey, listen. I saw a lot of people over there. They were thin and they were riding bicycles instead of driving in cars, but ah –

BLITZER: Lot of those people are starving.

TURNER: I didn’t see, I didn’t see any, I didn’t see any brutality in the capital or out in the, on the DMZ….I think they want to join the western world and improve the quality of life for their people just like everybody else. And I think that we should give them another chance. It doesn’t cost us anything. We already have agreements. And North Korea never posed any significant threat to the United States. I mean, the whole economy of North Korea’s only $30 billion a year. It’s less than the city of Detroit. It’s a small place, and we do not have to worry about them attacking us.

ted_turner_pointingBLITZER: You know, they have a million troops within literally a few miles.

TURNER: A half million.

BLITZER: Well, best estimates are a million. A million troops along the DMZ.

TURNER: We have a half a million troops, of which 28,000 are Americans and they’ve been there for 50 years. One of the things I said in both North and South Korea is it’s time to end the Korean War officially and move on. And get those hundreds of thousands of young men that are sitting there back building hospitals and roads and schools in North and South Korea and improving the gross national product. It’s just a waste of time and energy for them to sit there.

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Okay, this is photoshopped. In reality Turner hasn’t yet won the Gold Star identifying him as a Hero of the Democratic Repubic of North Korea. Yet.

BLITZER: I think the bottom line, though, Ted, and I think you’d agree, they had this opportunity in the ’90s, when they signed this first agreement and they cheated. They didn’t live up to it. Now they have a second chance. I hope you’re right. I certainly do.

TURNER: Well I hope I’m right, too. But you know it’s, in the Bible says you’re supposed to forgive seven times seventy, or something like that….Let’s give ’em a break. Give ’em a break. And besides, even if they do – even if they do threaten us again, the threat is non-existent to the United States. They can’t threaten us. I mean, it’s like a [flea] attacking an elephant.

Well, there it is. Yes, this is the all-powerful Ted Turner speaking. Pick your jaw back up off the floor. And come back tomorrow. There’s more where this came from.

CNN founder Ted Turner: master of hypocrisy

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Ted Turner

Recently we spent a couple of days scratching our heads over Jane Fonda‘s lifelong career as a fleabrained enthusiast for totalitarianism. Now it’s time to train the camera on this aging fluffhead’s third husband, Ted Turner, the billionaire founder of CNN, godfather (in the eyes of some observers) of cable TV itself, and currently the second largest landowner in the U.S., with more acreage, all told, than the states of Delaware and Rhode Island put together. (Until recently he was #1, but another media tycoon, John Malone, edged ahead of him.)

You’d think, given his remarkable financial success (he’s now worth over $2 billion), that, unlike his ditzy ex-wife (they divorced in 2001), Turner must be quite the sharp cookie. Indeed he has to be some kind of a business genius – many of those who’ve worked with him over the years have said so, and his own accomplishments can hardly be explained otherwise. But to peruse the record of his public statements on various issues is to be gobsmacked by what seems nothing less than a stunning combination of foolishness, nuttiness, ignorance, and immaturity. (And we’re talking about a man who’s now 72 years old.)

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With Jane Fonda at the 1992 Emmys

Like Fonda, Turner is on the extreme political left, loath to criticize the likes of Fidel Castro, Saddam Hussein, or North Korea’s Kims but quick to compare Fox News or people like George W. Bush to Hitler. Like Fonda, too, he’s a world-class hypocrite. As of 2012, when he was profiled by Stephen Galloway in the Hollywood Reporter, Turner was spending his time jetting privately from one of his 28 (yes, 28) homes to another – and was, at the same time (no joke) identifying himself as a passionate environmentalist who found it “heartbreaking” that “the Tea Party…say that global warming is a hoax.” In a list he’s drawn up of “11 Voluntary Initiatives,” Turner vows “to care for Planet Earth and all living things thereon, especially my fellow beings.” Back in 2001, Ken Auletta reported on Turner’s climate hysteria: “In a hundred years, he believes, New York will be under water and it will be ‘so hot the trees are going to die.’” As of July 2015, when Turner was interviewed by CNN’s Cristiane Amanpour, “protect[ing] the environment” remained his “current aim,” as demonstrated by the fact that his car was “adorned with two bumper stickers, proclaiming: ‘Save the Planet’ and ‘Save Everything.’” In short: do as I say, not as I do. 

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One of Ted Turner’s 28 residences

Another cute little hypocrisy: Turner has had five kids, but in 2010 he called for an international directive that would penalize couples for having more than one child. (He’s openly praised the Communist Chinese government for its one-child policy, which has resulted in the widespread murder of baby girls by their parents.)

But Turner’s biggest hypocrisy is the fact that he’s a billionaire with a soft spot – and a blind spot – when it comes to Communism. We’ll get into the details – of which there are many – next time.

Jane Fonda’s doublethink

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Fonda in North Vietnam

Yesterday we explored Jane Fonda‘s 1972 sojourn in North Vietnam, during which she was famously photographed sitting on an anti-aircraft battery – and did much else that was equally deplorable but far less famous. As we noted, that visit was only a single episode in a long life of useful stoogery, which has also attracted far less notice than it should have. Indeed, it could be argued that those pictures of her with that North Vietnamese weapon have been something of a lightning rod for all these decades, helping to draw attention away from everything else she’s done to promote totalitarianism and fight freedom.

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Fonda not in North Vietnam

Certainly to anyone who cared to listen, it was clear from early on that Fonda wasn’t just a liberal or left-wing activist but an out-and-out revolutionary Communist – or at least wanted, for whatever reason, to be seen as one. In 1970 she told a college audience, “If you understood what communism was, you would hope, you would pray on your knees that we would some day become communist.”

The next year she told another audience: “We’ve got to establish a socialist economic structure that will limit private profit-oriented businesses. Whether the transition is peaceful depends on the way our present governmental leaders react. We must commit our lives to this transition.” The historical record is full of such statements made by Fonda over the years to various newspaper reporters, in various TV and radio interviews, and from various stages and platforms.

5572832 (9053) USA, Las Vegas, 14.08.1964: Hochzeit von Roger VADIM, französischer Regisseur und Jane FONDA, amerikanische Schauspielerin [SPERRVERMERKE BEACHTEN | PLEASE CHECK RESTRICTIONS!Nutzung nur im redaktionellen Kontext und nur gegen Honorar, Beleg, Namensnennung und zu unseren AGB. Weitergabe und Archivierung nur mit schriftlicher Genehmigung. Honorare an: KEYSTONE Pressedienst,HASPA, BLZ 200 505 50, Kto.1235130877] 1965 by KPA
Fonda with first husband, French film director Roger Vadim, 1964
Certainly she’s spent much of her life agitating for socialist change. Years before going to Vietnam, she was a staunch supporter of the Black Panthers. Shortly after 9/11, she urged Americans to “try to find the underlying cause” of the attacks. In 2005, she joined the execrable Saddam crony George Galloway on an antiwar speaking tour of the U.S. In 2007, she spoke at a Marxist-led antiwar rally in Washington, D.C., telling the audience that she hadn’t attended any such rally in 34 years out of concern that “the lies…spread about me and that war” would “be used to hurt this new antiwar movement.” (In fact, as we’ve seen, the person who’s been spreading lies about Jane Fonda’s activities during the Vietnam War is Fonda herself.) In 2009, she joined fellow useful stooges Danny Glover, David Byrne, John Pilger, Alice Walker, Naomi Klein, and Howard Zinn in signing a letter protesting the “Israeli propaganda machine.”

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Jane Fonda with third husband, Ted Turner

Yet can it really be said that Fonda has heeded her own call to “commit our lives” to a transition to socialism? Let’s not forget that in addition to be a useful stooge for totalitarianism, she’s also been a world-class hypocrite. From 1991 to 2001, this self-styled revolutionary Communist was married to multibillionaire media mogul Ted Turner, who, at the time, was the largest landowner in the United States, his real-estate holdings adding up to an empire larger than Rhode Island and Delaware put together. Years before their marriage, moreover, Fonda had established her own massive business empire, hawking workout books and videos that sold in huge numbers for years, helped kick off the baby boom’s fitness craze, and made her untold millions. Has any useful stooge’s hypocrisy factor ever been so high?

workoutThe striking thing about Fonda is that she’s been carrying on this doublethink for so long – living the life of a stupefyingly successful capitalist while continuing to spout socialist slogans – and seems never to have paused to question it. Is she the fool that she seems to be, or is she, in fact, some kind of supremely cynical genius? As we’ve seen over and over again on this site, some useful stooges for totalitarianism are authentic true believers, plainly out to change the world. But Fonda has always seemed perfectly comfortable with her contradictions. Her enthusiastic talk about socialism has never seemed to have the slightest connection to her own reality, and has rarely if ever been accompanied by even a hint of meaningful action to advance her purported cause. The more one ponders her life, the more her activism seems to be about seeing glamour in revolution and about seeking attention. A 2011 biography by Patricia Bosworth quotes her as saying that her “biggest regret” was that she “never got to fuck Che Guevara.” Maybe that inane statement sums up the nature of her political “commitments” as well as anything else.

Jane Fonda: she regrets (almost) nothing

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Jane Fonda in North Vietnam, 1972

To older readers, it may seem unnecessary to revisit the moral depredations of Jane Fonda, which made worldwide headlines during the Vietnam War. But the fact is that countless younger people today, while acquainted with her through her continuing work in movies and television, are unfamiliar with her sordid history. Even many of those who will never forget her 1972 visit to North Vietnam and the famous photographs of her sitting on a North Vietnamese anti-aircraft battery, as if she were a soldier preparing to shoot down American aircraft, may not remember – or may never have known about – some of her other, equally offensive actions over the years. Yes, she’s apologized numerous times for those pictures, confessing to “a two-minute lapse of sanity that will haunt me forever”; but her actions on that day were of a piece with her entire history of political activism, for which she has never apologized and which she continues to pursue to this day.

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Laughing with North Vietnamese soldiers, 1972

During her 1972 North Vietnam visit alone, for example, she made several radio broadcasts in which she unquestioningly regurgitated her hosts’ propaganda, accusing the U.S. of genocide, calling U.S. soldiers war criminals, and urging President Nixon to read the poetry of Ho Chi Minh. On her return home, she testified that American POWs were being humanely treated; later, when released POWs contradicted her accounts, she called them liars. When she and her second husband, radical activist Tom Hayden, had a son in 1973, they named him Troy, after Nguyen Van Troi, a Viet Cong bomber who, ten years earlier, had tried to assassinate Robert McNamara and Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr. (When Troy married black actress Simone Bent in 2007, Hayden described it as “another step in a long-term goal of mine: the peaceful, nonviolent disappearance of the white race.”)

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Jane Fonda and second husband Tom Hayden

In a 2002 book, Aid and Comfort, authors Henry Mark Holzer and Erika Holzer demonstrated convincingly that Fonda’s actions in North Vietnam rose to the level of prosecutable treason. By contrast, in her own 2005 memoir, My Life So Far, Fonda offered a radically whitewashed account of that chapter of her life – claiming, for instance, that all she’d done on Hanoi radio was speak from her heart about the cause of peace. In fact she’d read verbatim from scripts prepared by the North Vietnamese government – scripts crammed with crude propaganda exalting Communism and demonizing the U.S. military.

fondaIn her book, far from expressing blanket remorse for her North Vietnamese visit, Fonda apologized only for those notorious pictures. “I do not regret,” she wrote, “that I went [to North Vietnam]. My only regret about the trip was that I was photographed sitting in a North Vietnamese antiaircraft gun site.” Indeed, she applauded herself for going to North Vietnam and even suggested that her efforts had helped end the war. On the contrary, as North Vietnamese Colonel Bui Tin later told the Wall Street Journal, “Visits to Hanoi by people like Jane Fonda…gave us confidence that we should hold on in the face of battlefield reverses.” And thus prolonged the war, and helped ensure American defeat.

That’s a bad enough legacy for anyone. But as we say, Fonda’s North Vietnam visit was only one episode in a long, destructive life of useful stoogery. More tomorrow.