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. charlie j

    It's a start. But there needs to be a lot more of this before I'll take Republicans seriously again. Be civil.

    April 6, 2010 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  2. Patrick

    Tom Coburn is one of our greatest senators. Everyone in Washington could learn something from him.

    April 6, 2010 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  3. QLee

    Senator Coburn sounds like a reasonable man. His advice is so right on. I've heard so many people arguing against the health care bill but using information from Fox News that is totally fabricated. I've tried to tell them that if you are going to debate – be sure you know your facts. CNN and Headline News both appear to be unbiased. Fox News only tells the far right what they want to hear and MSNBC tells the far left what they want to hear. Seems to me that people don't use their own minds anymore. They just repeat what some pundit says on the tv. Maybe if more people read they would be more informed.

    April 6, 2010 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  4. Washington DC Insider

    See this is what I like to see, someone who agrees it is ok to disagree. Senator Coburn has it right, but I bet we'll have the liberal left saying negatives comments about how Coburn is a Republican and blah blah blah. And the conservative right will call him a sell out.

    Where have all the adults gone? Clearly not on these forums.

    April 6, 2010 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  5. a health economist

    I'll admit it, I'm impressed. Some of the Republicans are finally realizing what is resulting from the tactics they have taken. I think the threats to members of Congress might have woken a few of the Republicans up.

    My hat's off to you, Senator Coburn. Thanks for trying to mend some of the damage your party's rhetoric has contributed to.

    April 6, 2010 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  6. Tim

    Finally someone civil! Thank you Tom Coburn.

    April 6, 2010 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  7. Mario in Texas

    Was this left over from April Fool's Day? A Repub not only defending a Democrat, but also lambasting Fox News? Wow. If this is true, then people all around the country whom live near fault lines better get ready because there may be a shift in the techtonic plates as this is something I would have never guessed would happen in my lifetime.

    April 6, 2010 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  8. Danny

    So refreshing to hear...
    Good man.

    April 6, 2010 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  9. Bostonian-TheWoodlands,TX

    Good for him. There are Republicans i would have voted for, liked, and do like.

    It seems the feeling is not returned too often with the far right. Not all.....but some.

    April 6, 2010 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  10. JoePoverty

    I could not believe my eyes when I read this but, good for you Coburn.

    April 6, 2010 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  11. Todd A

    It is nice to see some degree of decorum from the right. I like his philosophy: It's OK to disagree.

    April 6, 2010 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  12. Dave J

    WOW. This is a refreshing comment coming from Washington. I don't agree with Mr. Coburn's policies but it seems like he might be a nice person as well.

    April 6, 2010 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  13. ATL Guy

    This is particularly striking and a strong move away from the Republican's demonization of anyone with even slight disagreements with them. This can be a first step in bringing civility back to our country and needs to be adopted by Republicans and Democrats alike. The Republicans and Fox News thought that by ginning up and having people in constant fear would make them a more attractive party, however, Republicans are looked up favorable by less than 30% of the population. For Democrats it is over 35% and Obama is anywhere between upper 40 and low 50s. The more the Republicans try to destroy their opponents the worse their numbers become. And with Michael Steele and John Ensign having major issues of their own, the Republicans need to change course asap. Your base will vote for you but you're not getting the hearts and minds of anyone else.

    April 6, 2010 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  14. Question-Guy

    As a Black and lifelong Democrat – I can say I would vote for this man. He's honest – unlike our current or last President.

    April 6, 2010 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  15. Leo1

    hats off to you, Mr!

    April 6, 2010 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  16. jvd4486

    Nice. I wish more people in Washington would start publicly denouncing the misinformation.

    In a way, it is in the Republicans best interest to support FOX news. It benefits them when FOX gives out misinformation. However, it hurts the American people and undermines the Democratic process. More leaders need to put this country before their careers and the policies they support.

    April 6, 2010 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  17. Puuuleeeezzzzz!

    Awwww, you HAVE to believe everything Fox News puts out, after all, they are "Fair and Balanced", right? (snicker)

    April 6, 2010 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  18. jon,philadelphia

    Three cheers to Coburn for being civil. That's what is sorely lacking in D.C. is civility.
    Another three cheers for his admonisg=hment about listening to Fox news.
    Alittle honesty can go a long way.

    April 6, 2010 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  19. Rick

    Now there a change of tone from a Republican and I hope others (including Democrats) will start thinking with their brain, talking with sense and be more intelligent than just being simply biased towards the other.

    April 6, 2010 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  20. RTB

    Finally. a Republican that speaks decently.

    The Republican leadership could learn a few things here.

    Coburn has my attention.

    April 6, 2010 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  21. Bubba

    What, a Republican who isn't spewing insane hate speech in every direction? He won't last long. I bet he's been called RINO already. Welcome to the Democratic Party, sir.

    April 6, 2010 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  22. Useyourbrain!!!

    Thank you !!! A republican who tells it like it is !!! Of course, the diehards will find fault with Mr. Coburn's comment.

    April 6, 2010 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  23. Scott B

    Wow, a Republican who actually sounds reasonable. Perhaps someone that could even find some common ground with those across the aisle. Shocking. Just think of all of the things that could get done if there were more like him on both sides.

    April 6, 2010 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  24. cranker123

    wow a republican that can see thru cluster fox news
    good for him

    April 6, 2010 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  25. Patricia

    How refreshing. We could all take a lesson here. I may disagree with the Republican Party but I don't have to demonize everyone in the Republican Party. And vice versa!!

    April 6, 2010 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
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