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Coburn Implores Audience To Not Be ‘Biased By Fox News’

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"Coburn Implores Audience To Not Be ‘Biased By Fox News’"

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Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) on Fox News SundaySen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) regularly appears on Fox News. But at a recent town hall meeting, he accurately criticized the network for pushing misinformation about health care reform. When an audience member said that she believed the false claim that the new health care reform law meant that the IRS “can put us in prison” for not having health insurance, Coburn cut her off, saying that despite what they may have heard on Fox News, “the intention is not to put anybody in jail”:

COBURN: I want everybody else to get answer a question, ask a question, so let me. The intention is not to put anybody in jail. That makes for good TV news on Fox, but that isn’t the intention. There is the intention, though, to use the Internal Revenue Service to hold you accountable and you have to prove that you have bought health insurance.

Listen here:


Indeed, Fox News has repeatedly aired the misleading assertion that people could go to jail for not having health insurance.

Later in the town hall, when Coburn described his disagreement with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), whom he called “a nice lady,” over funding for extending unemployment benefits, the crowd booed Pelosi’s name. Coburn then lectured the audience to not be “biased by Fox News” into thinking that people they disagree with are bad people:

COBURN: Come on now. She is a nice. How many of y’all have met her? She is a nice person. She’s a nice person. You know, let me give you a little lesson here. I hope you will listen to me. Just because somebody disagrees with you doesn’t mean that they’re not a good person. And I want to tell ya, I’ve been in the Senate for five years and I’ve taken a lot of that because I’ve been on the small side, both in the Republican Party and the Democrat Party. Just because I don’t agree with them, it doesn’t mean I’m bad. It means I have a legitimate point of view that’s different than theirs. And 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 the determination yourself. So, don’t catch yourself being biased by Fox News that somebody’s no good. The people in Washington are good. They just don’t know what they don’t know.

Listen here:


Indeed, Fox News regularly demonizes and insults Pelosi.

At the end of the town hall, Coburn implored the audience to stay “informed on the issues.” “Don’t just watch Fox News or CNN. Watch them both,” said Coburn. He then seemed to refer back to the woman who asked about health care reform putting people in jail, saying that he was “disturbed that we get things like this lady said and others have said on other issues that are so disconnected to what” he knows “to be the facts.” “That comes from somebody who has an agenda that’s other than the best interest of our country,” said Coburn. “So, please balance and be careful as you take in. Make sure you get a balance.” Listen here:


Transcript:

CONSTITUENT: If there is a possibility of imprisonment, then that’s taking away our liberty. And so, to me, I don’t understand the people who are questioning the constitutionality of this, which I applaud them and I hope our Democrat attorney general will join that fight. But the next question I have is if they can put us in prison, take away our prison, take away our liberty, are they not trampling on our fifth amendment rights by putting it under the IRS?

COBURN: Well…

CONSTITUENT: Because the IRS thinks you’re guilty.

COBURN: Ok.

CONSTITUENT: Until proven innocent.

COBURN: I want everybody else to get answer a question, ask a question, so let me. The intention is not to put anybody in jail. That makes for good TV news on Fox, but that isn’t the intention. There is the intention, though, to use the Internal Revenue Service to hold you accountable and you have to prove that you have bought health insurance.

[...]

COBURN: We came to an agreement in the U.S. Senate with Harry Reid, myself, Mitch McConnell and Dick Durbin. And we agreed to pay for it for two weeks. We agreed to pay for it for one week or two weeks, but we found less important programs that they agreed to get rid of that would have done it. And when that was communicated to the House, the Speaker’s words back is they don’t want to set a precedent that they have to pay for new spending.

CROWD REACTS LOUDLY

COBURN: Now that’s the truth. That’s the words. So, I want to set that precedent. So I’m 180 degrees in opposition to the Speaker. She’s a nice lady. I don’t think we can wait.

CROWD REACTS LOUDLY

COBURN: Come on now. She is a nice. How many of y’all have met her? She is a nice person. She’s a nice person. You know, let me give you a little lesson here. I hope you will listen to me. Just because somebody disagrees with you doesn’t mean that they’re not a good person. And I want to tell ya, I’ve been in the Senate for five years and I’ve taken a lot of that because I’ve been on the small side, both in the Republican Party and the Democrat Party. Just because I don’t agree with them, it doesn’t mean I’m bad. It means I have a legitimate point of view that’s different than their’s. And 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 the determination yourself. So, don’t catch yourself being biased by Fox News that somebody’s no good. The people in Washington are good. They just don’t know what they don’t know.

[...]

COBURN: I want to leave you with one thought that Ronald Reagan had. He said, “freedom is a precious thing. It is never guaranteed. It is not ours by inheritance alone. It must be fought for and defended by each generation.” And he wasn’t talking to our military. He’s talking to you. And what we’re seeing happen in America is not a reaction to President Obama. It’s a culmination that would have happened had he be president anyway. Because we can’t afford the government that we have today. We need to make major changes and the only way that that’s going to happen is that you demand that it happens. And so the fact that you’re here is very pleasing. What you can do is make sure that everybody you know in this state and every other state, all of your family, stays informed on the issues. Don’t just watch Fox News or CNN. Watch them both. I read two newspapers a day, New York Times and Washington Post. And in between, the Wall Street Journal. I get a perspective. I need to know what other people’s thoughts are. Not just what I hear through a pipe channel. So I would tell you, you got to hear it both so that you have, you can take it and receive the information in context. And I want to tell ya. I do a lot of reading every day and I’m disturbed that we get things like this lady said and others have said on other issues that are so disconnected to what I know to be the facts. And that comes from somebody who has an agenda that’s other than the best interest of our country. So, please balance and be careful as you take in. Make sure you get a balance. And listen to the other side because what it does it makes you a better person because now you see things in context from how other people might see it that are different from you. God bless you and thank you for being here.

Update

On CNN’s Reliable Sources on Sunday, former Bush speechwriter David Frum said that Fox “has an interest in pushing the Republicans to the margins, making people angry.”

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