They seemed like fairly innocuous remarks, but Sen. Tom Coburn’s statements at a town hall meeting a couple of weeks ago that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was a nice person and that FOX News shouldn’t be someone’s only source of information ricocheted around the Web and wound up, well, everywhere.
The reaction was far more bizarre than the comments — Google Coburn and Pelosi and “nice lady” and you get 152,000 hits, compared to 214,000 when you Google Coburn and “health care reform” — but Coburn wasn’t surprised since, he said, the comments didn’t fit the image created for him in Washington.
“The press creates an image of us that isn’t real and everybody categorizes you,” he said in his office last week. “That’s the way Washington works and that’s what we live with.”
Coburn went on FOX News a few days after his comments and failed to challenge host Bill O’Reilly’s assertions that nobody on the channel had ever said people would go to jail for not buying health insurance. After the appearance, blogs and other outlets provided clips of people saying just that on FOX.
Coburn, R-Muskogee, said last week, “I could have embarrassed them like crazy because I knew what they’d done and when they’d done it.
“But I didn’t just go after them. I went after CNN, too. But that stuff just didn’t get played.”
“What also didn’t get played is most people at that town hall meeting agreed with me in terms of being civil.”
It sure sounded on the tape like there were widespread moans and murmurs of disagreement when he said Pelosi was a nice person. But Coburn said the dissent wasn’t widespread.
“Everybody wasn’t moaning — four or five did. People were supportive of that. We have to win on ideas, not demeaning other people. Because if you’re demeaning other people, what you’re saying is your argument isn’t very good and you look like a toddler or an adolescent pointing your finger at somebody else.
“Of all the issues that are out there today, conservative, limited, constitutional government wins on every one of them with 65 percent of the American public. Why would we revert to personalities when we’ve got the issues that we can win on?”
Coburn seemed to scoff at the “fair and balanced” tag that FOX News gives itself and the whole notion of objectivity in the media.
He said, “The problem in the country is the news media is interested in itself, not the real problems of the country. They started shooting at one another rather than talking about what the real issues are. The real issues are is every news source has a bias … We all have bias. But to deny a bias?”