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. Steve

    Tom Coburn is my new hero. The vitriolic rhetoric that has been spewed in Washington as of late have people thinking they can act as unruly, mean and spiteful as they want and it's OK.
    I may contribute to Coburn's next relection campaign, and that would be my first time to give to a Republican. We need people in Washington who can agree to disagree.

    April 6, 2010 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  2. jim atmadison

    Careful, Coburn. That bleeding heart, caring for other people stuff has no place in today's Republican Party. Good thing you're holding up the unemployment benefits package, or we'd start to think you might have normal human feelings.

    April 6, 2010 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  3. Rush

    Senator Tom Coburn,

    Thank you for bring some sense of civility to the issue. Whether people agree or not, it's not cause for a civil war and if we continue to tear at each other doesn't that just hurt our country in the longrun?

    I promise you, those who hate us, love the fact that we rip at each other.

    April 6, 2010 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  4. NC

    Thank you Coburn....your dose of reality will serve this country well; please keep it up because your speaking for the majority of republicans (I hope).

    April 6, 2010 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  5. Sean

    Very refreshing comments from Coburn. Civility and decorum needs to be restored to the political process.

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

    Is today opposite day?

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

    A stand up guy from the GOP finally. A welcome sight.

    April 6, 2010 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  8. Paul Beisser

    As a real Republican it is nice to hear from a Republican that is not a megaphone for the lunatic right (Rush & Beck). Thank you Mr. Coburn.
    Speaking of Rush, which country did he move to and when did he leave?

    April 6, 2010 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  9. GuyInVA

    "...so that you can see what's going on and make a determination for yourself."

    Great idea! When is it going to happen? Since Pelosi's mind boggling "we have to pass the bill so people will now what's in it"... we still don't know what's in it.

    April 6, 2010 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  10. LG


    It's time more politicians expressed the position that we can disagree and still respect each other.

    April 6, 2010 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  11. Rob in TX is tired of the spite and bile

    Bravo, Senator Coburn. I tip my hat to you. You sound far too fair and reasonable to be in politics.

    April 6, 2010 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  12. Kevin

    Finally, someone who starkly contrasts from the position which we are all tired of. A man who wants an actual debate as opposed to simply saying NO NO NO NO NO

    And I hate Fox News...the most biased network in the nation

    April 6, 2010 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  13. CedPick

    This is a smart guy.

    April 6, 2010 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  14. Sisyphus51

    Gosh, I'm not a big Senator tom Coburn fan, but kudos for his advocacy of simple civility and and opposition to demonizing those with whom he disagrees.

    April 6, 2010 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  15. David

    Finally a Republican with the decency to address one of the faults within the party. We all may disagree without it becoming personal. If more Republicans would follow his lead, the party may become viable again.

    April 6, 2010 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  16. Chuck Anaheim, Ca

    Hmmm, what happened here? First Frum and now this guy, are they calling fox out for what it is? Let's keep watching, this could get interesting if CNN and others report about it and don't sweep it under the rug by this evening like the did with Frum's comment about fox, and his firing a couple of days later for saying fox owned the republicant party.

    April 6, 2010 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  17. Craig

    We need more guys like this in office.

    April 6, 2010 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  18. Obama: POTUS until Jan 20, 2017

    Well it's about time someone on the far-right speaks up and tell the ditto-heads to read and listen to more than Fox News and Foxnews-lite CNN.

    Senator Dr. Coburn reads well and throws the Wall Street Journal under his arm as a coverlet – over the other two real newspapers.

    I read the NYT and WP too, to get the truth before it gets twisted and bent into lies.

    Now Coburn... get back to work and pass that unemployment bill.

    April 6, 2010 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  19. moe

    Finally, a sensible Republican comment on how Congress should act, not to mention the electorate.

    April 6, 2010 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  20. FM

    My hat off for Coburn. I knew it, from a group of many at least one will emerge as the hero. Tom Coburn is the one. He is talking of what I expected to hear from GOP leaders. Well done Tom!

    April 6, 2010 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  21. Tino

    WHAT?!?! A Republican with common sense?!?! What is this country coming to???

    April 6, 2010 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  22. Anonymous

    Preston kathy nancy is going to have to get a little meaner the repubs do not like some one who is week

    April 6, 2010 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  23. A Mom in the Middle

    This is what people ought to be saying! I am growing so tired of the bashing. When we demonize the opposition, scare people with ridiculous extremes and create all of the animosity; no one wins!!! I am a public school teacher in Michigan where the Republicans say no new taxes whatsoever–we must cut the budget and live within our means. They say that taxes are business killers. UGH! What will kill the future of business in this state is a lack of educated individuals and crappy schools with no money to educate. If we do not stop crossing our arms, stomping our feet and insisting on getting "our" way, things will only get worse.

    April 6, 2010 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  24. Murski

    Wow, he reads 3 more newspapers a day than Sarah Palin! Seriously, kudos to Senator Coburn. He's loyal to the Republican party and, in so being, is trying to enlighten people to the importance of gathering information from a variety of sources. I might add that, should Republicans stop reading mass e-mails from unknown sources denigrating Obama and spreading hate through tasteless humor, there would be more time in the day to come to a true understanding of what the real issues are. For goodness sake, most of us are educated – – stop poring through doom-and-gloom e-mails that started with someone named 'southshallrise1' and look up the actual text of the bill on a government web site. It's out there!

    April 6, 2010 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  25. Tom

    Finally, a republican who saw through the right wingnut fox news and had the guts to put them off. "We report..we decide".

    April 6, 2010 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
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