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. Rob from MO

    WOW! Finally a Republican politician with some integrity.

    April 6, 2010 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  2. Turnabout is Fair Play

    OMFG! If Dante saw that Hell was frozen at its ninth circle, it has just caught fire because a neo-con actually told his radical rightwing nuts to act with intelligence and not with the brain capacity of a grapefruit. And to bat down Faux Noise too? WOW! He must sense the coming end of the Repugnican party and is about to switch sides like Arlen Specter did..stay tuned folks!

    April 6, 2010 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  3. Brian - Seattle

    Good for you Senator. I don't agree with your positions on the issues, but I completely respect you taking a stand on partisanship like this. Hope to see more.

    April 6, 2010 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  4. Steve, New York City

    Wow – a member of the right-wing who refrains from demonizing the other side. Kudos to you, senator!

    April 6, 2010 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  5. Shaun

    Congrats to Sen Coburn for seperating the the politics from the person. I can't believe one politician, from either party, is willing to stand up to the extremes of their own party. Maybe if we had 100 senators like him, they'd get something done. I'm a democrat and welcome his honesty.

    April 6, 2010 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  6. Scott

    Wow! That is the most civil, lucid, intelligent statement I have heard form a politician from ANY party in quite some time. Kudos to Senator Coburn!!!

    April 6, 2010 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  7. George Guadiane - Austerlitz, NY

    WOW, a Republican who not only wants to be re-elected, but who wants to work WITH the existing (and next congress) to try and make things better, WITH CIVILITY!
    How cool is that?

    April 6, 2010 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  8. alice

    Finally!!! A member of Congress that actually speaks rationally. Yes, you CAN disagree with someone's policies WITHOUT calling them incendiary names. YES!! Now, if both sides of the aisle in Congress could just knuckle down and do their jobs (i.e. work for the GOOD of the country) instead of playing King of the Hill (fighting to be on the top always), then we just might have a chance of having sanity in our government. I am disgusted with the name-calling & spiteful rudeness that is permeating our society. The media seems to like it. It is getting hard to tell the journalists apart from the gossip- & fear-mongerers.

    April 6, 2010 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  9. Enough

    Why is he trying to beat up on FOX, it isn't their fault Pelosi is an idiot. Nice ladies don't go around calling people who disagree with her Nazi's........hardly nice and hardly lady like.

    Wake up California and vote Pelosi OUT, the country could save a fortune if this woman retired.

    April 6, 2010 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  10. David in Indiana

    I think his comment about forming an opinion based on a wide variety of sources is sound advice. It seems that many people, who have been elected to represent their neighbors, have fallen victim to the "Party Agenda".

    It is sad to see so many partisan votes cast in every level of government. I have not followed Sen. Coburn's voting record, but I believe he is correct in this article.

    April 6, 2010 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  11. opticecho

    wow, great to have a little common sense in the GOP ...

    April 6, 2010 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  12. Shirley In California

    If you really mean this – thank you Mr. Coburn. Of course, you will be thrown out of the republican party but at least you were man enough to form YOUR own opinion. I appreciate your effort. Did anyone else notice he is able to tell us what papers he reads unlike some other ignorant female who likes to read from her hand.

    April 6, 2010 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  13. Ray

    Good for you, Senator. Now, why did you block unemployment benefits?

    April 6, 2010 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  14. Ron , West Coast

    Tom , thank you for stopping my un-employment benefits . ( now I can`t buy groceries for my family ) If I was a Oklahoma resident I would vote against you in Nov., and see that you are standing in line seeking your un-employment benefits . I just can not imagine you being a medical doctor , you must be a Quack !

    April 6, 2010 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  15. Fl Energy

    Reed and McCain, both should retire as the ruling class and let us get on with some sense.

    April 6, 2010 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  16. Jade

    Bravo! It's good to know there are still some rational Republicans out there.

    April 6, 2010 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  17. Brian Clark

    Glad to hear this from you Tom. I completely disagree with your political stances and positions, but I am glad to hear you express these sentiments.

    April 6, 2010 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  18. Goodman Fredrick

    Good man!

    April 6, 2010 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  19. Operation Crush Rush

    Tom must feel pretty comfortable going against bosses.Guess hes being paid by big pharma and the insurance industry,who stand to gain billions.

    April 6, 2010 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  20. Jefe

    Now I have to do some research on Sen. Coburn. Anytime a member of Congress shows they're not a deranged idiot, I like to find out more about them, because it becomes a person I would potentially vote for or donate to their campaign. Too bad there's not more people (voters and politicians) who believe there are different perspectives, and we shouldn't be fighting for one absolute or the other.

    April 6, 2010 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  21. Dustin

    Wow. A level headed politician telling it like it is.

    April 6, 2010 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  22. What goes around

    Wow. Good for you, Sen. Coburn. I hope this is the new GOP strategy.

    April 6, 2010 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  23. Jon

    Tom will soon join Perosi in defending OBAMACARE by flying her luxury jumbojet around the country and the world on taxpayers' expenses. Tom will say that she is a very nice lady! Tom, you are cheated by her and punked!

    April 6, 2010 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  24. Michael

    When will the cheap shots, the lies and other spewing of garbage stop and the truth be known. This administration has to know by now that the American people do NOT believe everything there being told.

    Pretty pathetic when your own state senators wont even do a town hall

    April 6, 2010 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  25. Barbara

    A fair Republican.... good to see – and definately scarce. He is wrong of course on the health care reform issue, but, right on advising that citizens be fully informed, from more than Faux News, (or just CNN for that matter). Lindsay Graham also has potential for working across the aisle.

    April 6, 2010 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
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