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. Seriously?

    Finally, a civil and thoughtful republican. Oh, and calling out Fox News is brilliant. LOLing all over the place. Good on ya, Senator.

    April 6, 2010 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  2. Jeremy in Tacoma

    Thank you Coburn, for standing up and being a voice of reason in this time of extreme political polarization. And thank you for educating your supporters make ignorant generalizations like saying the legislation is aimed at imprisoning people who don't buy heath insurance. I wish there were more politicians like you on both sides of the aisle.

    April 6, 2010 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  3. Susan L.

    I disagree with Tom Coburn on pretty much everything, but I have to admit that my Okie acquaintances were right about him being a true Maverick. Or loose cannon. Not all of these Republican Okies liked the man, either, but they have been right about him to a certain extent. Mind you, he still votes in lockstep with the Republican leadership on everything and is a dirty-pool obstructionist. But credit where it's due. He's smarter than many of his constituents. And a better person than many of them. Right wing Obama Derangement Syndrome is rampant among Oklahoma Republicans. I'm surprised the haters didn't tar & feather Coburn for speaking blasphemy by saying something even vaguely nice about Nancy Pelosi or Barack Obama (with whom he co-sponsored bills in the past.)

    April 6, 2010 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  4. alphonso

    despite me being a democrat.i got alot more respect 4 sen. coburn despite he is a repub

    April 6, 2010 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  5. Jeff


    Finally, a Republican with some class!

    We need much more of this – RESPECTFUL opposition!


    April 6, 2010 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  6. A Kickin' Donkey

    Colburn has said some prettry radical things himself about the Democrats and President Obama, so let's not give him too much credit too quickly.

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

    Wow, though I disagree with Tom Coburn's politics, I have to say I really respect that he is brave enough to take this position as it's probably not going to be well received by his base. Thank you Tom, this is a breath of fresh air.

    April 6, 2010 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  8. Fed Up

    A voice of sanity ... at last.

    My compliments to Congressman Coburn for recognizing that one of this country's greatest strengths, and what sets us apart from most of the rest of the world, is that we have the capacity to disagree on issues and still have respect for each other.

    Repuiblicans and Democrats, conservatives and liberals – take note! Time to start practicing this unique American trait again.

    April 6, 2010 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  9. Roger in StL

    Wait, a Repub that is calling for civility and for his constituents to make an educated and informed statement instead of lambasting something they know nothing about?!

    Huh, I think the devil just put on an overcoat.

    Prepare to be pushed out and vilified now by members of your own party for those, dare I say it, sensible and intelligent remarks.

    April 6, 2010 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  10. Chris - Denver

    Good for him. We need more of this. I disagree with Rep. Coburn on practically every issue, but I have no evidence that he is not a good person.

    April 6, 2010 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  11. Ralph

    I now have a reason for living in Oklahoma, so I can vote for Sen. Tom Coburn. His comment, "Just because somebody disagrees with you doesn't mean they aren't a good person." is something we all need to step back and think about. There is so much hate being throw around in today’s political environment, we American are sounding a great deal like some of the extremists we are fighting. I am appalled at people who have such strong emotional opinions yet are so uninformed about the Health care bill. (Both sides) Have an opinion and be able to articulate it without resorting to personal insults to someone who disagrees with you……. It’s what freedom of speech is really about!

    April 6, 2010 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  12. ted

    I find it amazing that a Republican like Coburn would try to distance his party from FOX News the media arm of the Grand Obstructionist Party. Can Boner and Cantor and Mcconnell and the rest of the reprobates be far behind? Are they now getting that Fox is biased and led by blowhards such as Limbarf and Beck and Oreilly? Steele will still promote FOX as he is a joke anyway.

    Obama/Biden 2012

    April 6, 2010 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  13. John

    FINALLY–a note of civility coming out of Washington!

    I applaud Senator Coburn for bringing us back to our senses. We can disagree without questioning one another's motives and character. I hope this catches.

    April 6, 2010 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  14. Avg Guy in Red State Kansas

    I thought I felt the Earth move but couldn't decide if it was another 7.2 quake or Coburn's remarks about Pelosi AND Fox News.

    Don't tell me wer'e seeing the emergence of a "kindler, gentler" Tom Coburn?!?!? Mr. Coburn is not noted for his intellectual prowess. Nor is he noted for his honesty. However, in those two remarks he's managed to demonstrate he has a pilot light of civility and truth burning somewhere deep in his tiny little brain.


    April 6, 2010 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  15. Victim of GOP Taliban

    Wow I was impressed already that Coburn was one of the very few Republicans to actively participate in the recent Obama bipartisan Heathcare Summit.

    Now I see again that Senator Coburn stand-up against the lunatics that have hi-jacked the Republican party and defend Pelosi. Indeed she is a very nice lady and represents the will of her constituents and California. Quit trying to make her a scapegoat and pick a fight with a 70 year women you Taliban wimps.

    April 6, 2010 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  16. jc iowa

    Finally someone talkin some sense you can debate something but not go all crazy about it hope the rest follow suite

    April 6, 2010 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  17. Just_Me

    "Just because somebody disagrees with you doesn't mean they aren't a good person."

    Amen! And also, just because someone doesn't agree with you, it doesn't mean that they're wrong. That's the problem with the far right and the far left. If someone disagrees with them they thing they're a bad, evil person and that they're wrong (which they may or may not be, but we should not automatically assume that they are).

    April 6, 2010 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  18. I Am The Great Sociopathic Wizard of Rush

    Maybe he's a bit worried that the lunatics have taken over the Republican insane asylum.

    April 6, 2010 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  19. Stephen

    WOW ... I am really impressed. It's great to see a republican speak something sensible for a change. I get so tired of strictly partisan politi-speak. It's not good for the Congress, it's not good for America. Were I in Oklahoma (though I an am independent who generally leans to the democratic side) Tom Coburn would have just won my vote.

    April 6, 2010 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  20. Bernice

    Whaaat? Huh? I am truly confused! He is veering away from the party line. Can't wait to see the pushback on this one. But notice he didn't mention Rush – guess he didn't want to have to backtrack his words!

    April 6, 2010 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  21. Sarah, Northern Colorado

    I'm very impressed with Tom Coburn regarding this. Thank you for offering a different view of someone who is usually vilified.

    April 6, 2010 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  22. John Starnes Tampa Florida

    Good for him to try to cultivate civility!

    April 6, 2010 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  23. Down with Tea Baggers

    Amen Mr. Coburn, even though YOU are holding up my unemployment benefits...

    April 6, 2010 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  24. Darth Vadik, CA

    Only thing Republicans pretend to treat with dignity and respect is a fetus, then once the fetus is born, to Hell with the baby and the "welfare queen."

    Unless you are Rick Sentorum, then you take the dead fetus home and have your kids play with it (true story)...

    ...and some Republicans actually think that this nut job is a viable presidential candidate.

    April 6, 2010 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  25. Pragmatic

    Wow! Gold stars for man! “The aim of an argument or discussion should not be victory, but progress”, said the philosopher, Joubert.

    Now let's see how loud the tea party conservatives howl in their hatred of anything reasonable or what they deem "impure"

    April 6, 2010 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
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