April 6th, 2010
08:50 PM ET
12 years ago

Coburn defends Pelosi, takes swipe at FOX

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/08/13/art.coburn0813.gi.jpg caption="Coburn warned citizens not to 'catch yourself being biased by Fox News.'"](CNN) - House Speaker Nancy Pelosi - a lightning rod among opponents of the recent health care legislation - is being defended by an unlikely source: Conservative Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn.

Coburn is a fierce opponent of the health care bill but told participants at a recent town hall in his home state that Pelosi is a "nice lady" who deserves to be treated with civility.

"Come on now, she is a nice - how many of you all have met her?" Coburn said to groans from the crowd. "She is a nice person. Let me give you a little lesson here, I hope you will listen to me. Just because somebody disagrees with you doesn't mean they aren't a good person."

The comments, first reported by Capitol News Connection and recorded by local NPR station KGOU, strike a markedly different tone than that adopted by the Republican National Committee, which posted a large "Fire Pelosi" banner on its Web site last month and pictured the House Speaker amidst balls of fire.

Coburn spokesman John Hart confirmed the comments and said he believed they came during a March 31 event in Oklahoma City.

In the same town-hall, Coburn reiterated his opposition to the health care legislation but warned town-hall attendees to be wary of information they receive about the bill on Fox News.

"What we have to have is make sure we have a debate in this country so that you can see what's going on and make a determination yourself," he said. "So don't catch yourself being biased by Fox News that somebody is no good. The people in Washington are good. They just don't know what they don't know."

The Oklahoma Republican and medical doctor also pushed back against one town-hall participant who said the legislation aimed to imprison people who don't buy health insurance.

"The intention is not to put any one in jail. That makes for good TV news on FOX but that isn't the intention," he said.

Coburn also advised his constituents to get their news from a broad range of sources: "Don't just watch Fox News or CNN, watch them both," he said. "I read two papers a day - the New York times, the Washington Post, and in between the Wall Street Journal. I get a perspective."

Filed under: Extra • Popular Posts • Tom Coburn
soundoff (279 Responses)
  1. Rana

    I like that last comment, people need to get a perspective on what's going on. Unfortunately with the invent of 24 hour news channels, producers need to have their stories spun a certain way so that people will be interested. It seems that news channels would rather be soap operas than objective.

    April 6, 2010 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  2. Tired

    At last! Someone who believes in being able to disagree with someone without labeling them as evil.

    April 6, 2010 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  3. lara

    Oh my giddy aunt. a republican telling the truth? Whatever next?

    April 6, 2010 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  4. HBO

    Miracles never cease. See everybody... God is real!

    April 6, 2010 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  5. GetOverIt

    Well, I guess he'll be out next election. Republicans don't tolerate dissent.

    April 6, 2010 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  6. Joe Green

    Somewhere in Heaven, Barry Goldwater is smiling.

    How do I vote for this guy?

    Here, at last, is the future of the Republican Party – the voice of civility, bipartisanship and truth.

    As opposed to Fox news, the voice of fear, lies, half-truths, and hate-mongering.

    So long as the GOP follows the hate-mongers, they will lose elections.

    And no, winning one Massachusetts Senate seat is not a "sea change" teabaggers, particularly when you run against the weakest campaign ever.

    April 6, 2010 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  7. DocRay

    Finally a Republican isn't afraid to stand up for truth, instead of the jingoistic, xenophobic, hypocritical bull that they are fed constantly by the FOX news and their own leaders like John Boehner.

    Way to go, Sen Coburn. I disagree with you on most issues but on matters of being civil to one another and to the first female speaker of the house, I'm with you.

    April 6, 2010 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  8. Robert

    Well I'm impressed. My hat's off to Senator Coburn – that couldn't have been easy knowing the tea partiers and Fox will now come after him. He took a principled stand, and he should be thanked by all. Maybe this will be the start of a more civil tone in our national discussion.

    April 6, 2010 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  9. Doug

    And we should trust CNN or MSNBC? Really!

    April 6, 2010 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  10. Bob in Pa.

    As I see it, she deserves to be treated the same as she treated the American People. So, we can call her a radical leftist, talk about her behind her back, and deceitfully hold closed door sessions to figure out how to get her out of office.

    April 6, 2010 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  11. Thanh

    Bingo. People need to get their info from multiple sources, not just one major one and these blogs all over the internet. Then there's the issue of trolls who just spew hate without regard for the facts.

    It's not a battle of good vs. evil. It's a discussion on what decisions to make for the country. People have forgotten that, so they become entrenched in their own camp, blindly following their leaders without even entertaining ideas from the other side.

    Then there's the rhetoric along the lines of "let's take back our country!" You know how ridiculous that sounds? People voted for the current government in an overwhelming majority. They'll get another shot this November, and in 2012. They certainly have the power, so what's the problem? People voted for Obama because they only listened to one side of the story. As a result, even his own constituency is shocked and disappointed at his actions as president. I wasn't surprised, because I knew exactly what he was going to do, and that was because I was well informed. The decision to vote for Obama wasn't clear cut, and he was only slightly better than the McCain ticket.

    Back to the media. It does a really good job of amplifying the message of the few. The few that stand out have the biggest impact, which is now aided by alternative media such as the internet. Does anyone really know how big the Tea Party is, for example? The media makes it seem that the entire Republican Party and some conservative Democrats are rallied behind it.

    People by nature are conformists. We evolved that way for survival. If there seems to be a big group, then by instinct we tend to try to align ourselves to that group at least partially if it ensures our security. In San Francisco, people tend to align with liberals, simply because there are so many. In Texas, people might align more with a conservative point of view, because that's the climate there. "When in Rome" totally applies here. Media can create the illusion of strength in numbers. If they play the same story every hour, one would think that story is a big deal.

    Look at Tiger Woods. If the media didn't give so much attention to him, it wouldn't be such a big deal. Regular people cheat, and other celebrities cheat, but they gave Tiger the blitz of coverage because it makes for good TV. Then all of a sudden, his affairs are "important" to every man, woman, and child.

    April 6, 2010 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  12. LouisianaMan

    Coburn is drinking the Kool-Aid.

    April 6, 2010 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  13. Kate

    Thank God someone finally is standing up..there is a difference between political debate and hatefull rhetoric.

    April 6, 2010 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  14. S.B.

    Sound advice coming from a surprising source. There are just too many people today relying on only one source for information, and they are being fed a lot of misinformation. All of us could be much better informed by reading newspapers and news magazines as well as watching TV and internet news.

    April 6, 2010 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  15. hobart

    Kind of refreshing to see a Republican actually contradict Faux News and their nonstop, 24/7/365 lies.

    I wonder how long that will last? Or how long Coburn will last?

    April 6, 2010 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  16. karen

    Thank you Mr. Coburn for recognizing the value of common courtesy. You too are a nice person and I am much more willing to listen to your point of view. Your mother would be proud.

    April 6, 2010 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  17. HisStoryPal

    Good luck with that, Dude....

    April 6, 2010 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  18. Sherry in Kentucky

    Wow. A Republican with some common sense? How refreshing.

    April 6, 2010 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  19. Sarah

    Thank you Senator Coburn. Thank you for telling the truth about FOX "News."

    April 6, 2010 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  20. Charles

    So Sen. Tom Coburn are you saying CNN, MSNBC, ABC, etc are all fair news networks?

    April 6, 2010 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  21. Fred

    Sen. Coburn is to be applauded for his leadership and civility, and raising the bar – isn't this what we should expect from our politicians? It is time to end the divisive tone and intolerance in America. Let's debate the issues and push back against the biased and personal views that is polluting the airwaves.

    April 6, 2010 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  22. vgal

    FINALLY!!! A grown up republican. If he continues to act civilized, decent and respectful of ALL people – he will be a strong contender for president.

    He said it best when he said that we might not agree on things, but we should still be civil.

    I can't tell you what a BREATH of FRESH air it is to hear this coming from a republican. This is a lesson that I would LIKE my children to learn.

    April 6, 2010 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  23. Mike Mundy, Houston, TX

    Well you don't know, what you don't know, Senator! Your kind in Washington are so dreadfully OUT OF TOUCH with Americans, that the last thing we want to hear is a "conservative" defending the horrible tactics of Pelosi or anyone else.

    April 6, 2010 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  24. Ryan

    Finally, a voice of civility. We should all stand up and applaud, encouraging this from our elected representatives!

    April 6, 2010 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  25. johnnyhouse

    We are wary of any news generated by any politician. That is why we intend to change all of them, Democrat and Republican.Term limits is the main objective and if a candidate does not have that as part of his or her campaign promises avoid them.Voters have allowed these crooks to root themselves into their perky jobs and they are making the rules that do not apply to the citizens who are paying the bills. Being elected to office is suppose to be an honor not a career. Teaparties are not the way.Republicans are not the only ones dissatisfied with this bunch but splitting the vote by running candidates that cannot be elected is not the way. Palin is not one of them if that is what she is thinking.

    April 6, 2010 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
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