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Governor’s new communications director mistakenly forwards anti-Obama chain email

October 17th, 2011 · 29 Comments · Politics

Governor Neil Abercrombie’s newly appointed communications director said he didn’t read a chain email falsely attacking President Obama for planning to honor a controversial Vietnam War-era critic of U.S. policy before forwarding the email to a group of friends. Intended recipients included a conservative talk show host and the campaign manager of Linda Lingle’s Senate bid.

Contacted this morning at the Governor’s Office, Jim Boersema said he received the email “from three different people” and immediately forwarded it to several others who share his military background and interest in Vietnam.

“I didn’t even read it,” Boersema said. “I was in the Army for 37 years. I saw it was about Vietnam, and I just forwarded it to some friends.”

Boersema acknowledges it was a mistake.

“I shouldn’t have sent it,” he said.

The email, an updated version of a conservative message that has been circulating on the internet for more than a decade, said Obama is planning to honor the controversial actress Jane Fonda as a “Woman of the Century.”

Fonda became a symbol of anti-war activism in the early 1970s, a reputation which was cemented by her highly-publicized visit to Hanoi, capital of North Vietnam, in 1972, while U.S. involvement in the war continued. The email savagely attacks her as a traitor and urges those receiving the email to forward it to others “so that everyone will know a traitor is about to be honored” by the president.

But it isn’t true, according to several different fact-checking sites that examined the email claims. It turns out the “honor” it refers to was Fonda’s inclusion in an ABC News profile of 100 “great women” of the 20th century broadcast in 1999, almost a decade before Obama’s election.

See FactCheck.org, About.com’s “Urban Legends: ‘Hanoi Jane’ Email Blends Fact and Fiction,” and “Hanoi’d with Jane” at Snopes.com.

Among those meant to receive Boersema’s email, sent from his private email address, were MidWeek columnists Rick Hamada and Bob Jones, and former State Adjutant General Bob Lee, recently named manager of Republican Linda Lingle’s Senate campaign. Hamada is also a popular conservative talk show host. Lee may not have received the email due to a mistyped letter in his email address.

From FactCheck.org:

It is simply false that the president is planning to honor Jane Fonda as one of the “100 women of the century,” as this chain e-mail claims.

Fonda was one of many women featured in a Barbara Walters special for ABC News called “A Celebration: 100 Years of Great Women,” which looked at the “most inspiring, intriguing and entertaining” women of the 20th century. It was actually based on a list of the “100 Most Important Women of the 20th Century” selected by a panel for Ladies’ Home Journal.

The program hosted by Walters aired on April 30, 1999, nearly 10 years prior to Obama becoming president. Versions of this e-mail — without references to Obama, of course — began circulating soon after Walters’ special aired.

In addition, several incidents described in the email have been repeatedly denied by those involved, the fact checking sites report.

“How Barack Obama got dragged into this is a mystery,” comments Snopes.com, the website that debunks rumors and urban legends. But this email campaign is reminiscent of the false “swift boat” political smears that targeted Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry in 2004.

Boersema’s forwarded email encouraged recipients to keep spreading the story by forwarding the rambling allegations linking President Obama to Fonda’s actions. It adds to the political problems of the president and the Democratic Party, and embarrasses Gov. Abercrombie, who was a personal friend of the president’s parents and an early supporter of his candidacy.

“For the record, I like President Obama,” Boersema said this morning. “I do like him.”

Although Jane Fonda was an easy target for conservatives, she also proved very popular among much of the conscript army of the Vietnam era.

I was at the old Civic Auditorium in Honolulu on November 25, 1971, when a capacity crowd of about 5,000 people, mostly young military personnel, jammed the building to cheer Fonda’s touring FTA show (no, not Federal Transit Adminstration, in this case it stood for “F___ the Army”).

Here’s one description I was able to find of the show.

The show, featuring Jane Fonda, Donald Sutherland, Rita Martinson, Country Joe McDonald, Len Chandler Jr., and more had already played outside of Fort Bragg, Fort Ord, Fort Lewis, and other bases in the U.S. and was headed to Okinawa, South Korea, The Philippines, and Japan.

The poster for the show read:

“The G.I. movement exists on nearly every United States military installation around the world. It is made up of American servicemen and women who have come to realize that if there is to be an end to the U.S. military involvement in South East Asia — and end to the war — it is they who must end it.

“In response to the invitation of servicemen and women within the G.I. movement we have formed the F.T.A. Show in order to support their fight to end discrimination against people because of race, sex, class, religion, and personal or political belief.”

[revised 10:50 a.m.]

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29 Comments so far ↓

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  • Just Sayin

    Mufi would have been a better guv and all of you know it by now. Buyers remorse. He was skewered for being a “bully” and “not listening”…..sound familiar? I don’t think as Mayor he ever experienced the mass exodus of staff. In fact, the new regime kept most of his hires.

    • anon

      Even after all of this and Neil’s bad moves, many of us would rather have Neil over Mufi any day? why? one reason: mufi wasn’t just any”bully”.
      he had a “Compare and Decide” mailer that went after Neil Abercrombie’s mainland birth, haole wife, UH education and congresstional record.
      even Dan Inouye slapped Mufi over that one.
      Neil’s mistakes are sad, but buyers remorse in favor of mufi? not.

  • Augustus John

    So this is an ‘example’ of the ‘adults’ who have come to take the place of the ‘kids’……….seems to me the public just gets screwed and more cynical with each ‘New Day’…….

  • Just Sayin

    So you’ re saying Mufi’s performance and record while actually in office is worse than what we’ve gotten so far from Neil? LOL. not. The flyer is history. Give it up.

    • Anon

      “The flyer is history. Give it up.” so ….. an incident in 2010 is history by 2011? in politics and the news? lol back.
      btw, i’ve noticed that if you don’t like facts, you tend to dodge and weave and lol in response. keep it up. i can’t wait for your reply to this!

  • Just Sayin

    You nailed it Anon. Neil has made a mess of his first year on office with multiple mistakes….that is a mistake with an S. Plural. It’s one of those facts that you like to yak about. Mufi’s time in office was relatively scandal free (I don’t remember 4 of his top aides resigning in one week for instance). He made a mistake with the flyer….that’s ONE. If anyone is “keeping it up” it would be you my friend. If you respond next time please use your brain and not with your only weapon….sarcasm. How did I do?

    • Ian Lind

      Correction: these resignations do not constitute a “scandal.”

      A problem, sure. Poor implementation, yes. Scandal implies skulduggery. No evidence of that.

      So be careful in talking about these things.

  • Dean

    “I didn’t even read it,” Boersema said. “I was in the Army for 37 years. I saw it was about Vietnam, and I just forwarded it to some friends.”

    And he’s in what profession?

    Each time I get an email like that, I check with Snopes. Nearly every single one is pure BS. And if it’s a mass group, I reply back to all and let them know it’s just crap, along with links to substantiate it.

    Whether they actually pay attention is doubtful. Because it keeps happening.

    How someone can mindlessly forward this sort of drivel is beyond comprehension. It’s a clear demonstration of a total lack of critical thinking.

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