NY Times called ‘ridiculous’ for labeling Sen. Tom Coburn ‘ultraconservative,’ ‘Dr. No’ in obit


The New York Times was criticized on Saturday over its characterization of the late former Sen. Tom Coburn in their obituary of the Oklahoma Republican.

Coburn, a fiscal conservative and a fierce opponent of wasteful spending in the federal government, died late Friday after a years-long fight with prostate cancer. He retired from the Senate in 2015 amid complications with the disease.

However, the Times’ obituary dedicated to Coburn raised eyebrows along with its headline, “Tom Coburn, the ‘Dr. No’ of Congress, Is Dead at 72.”

“Tom Coburn, an ultraconservative Oklahoma Republican and family physician who in 16 years in Congress crusaded for limited government, using a rule-book technicality to block so many bills that frustrated legislators called him “Dr. No,” died on Saturday in Tulsa. He was 72,” Times’ Obituaries senior writer Robert McFadden wrote.

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Critics slammed the paper for prominently defining Coburn with the infamous James Bond villain nickname that was given to him by Democratic lawmakers and many questioned what an “ultraconservative” is.

“Garbage tweet about the passing of a great man. Go figure,” NewsBusters managing editor Curtis Houck reacted.

“Among the many many flaws with this tweet, I have yet to have an editor from NYT define ‘ultraconservative’ for me,” Washington Examiner executive editor Seth Mandel tweeted.

“What a ridiculous way to describe Coburn’s life and impact. What is ultraconservative?” writer A.G. Hamilton asked. “Tom Coburn was one of the most respected and decent people in Congress for decades. He privately receives almost unanimous praise from people on both sides, which is extremely rare in DC.”

While some noted that President Obama had kinder words to say about Coburn in a tribute written about him in Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people in 2013, others compared the Times’ obituary of the late senator to descriptions written for Cuban dictator Fidel Castro and Iranian Gen. Qassim Soleimani.

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Fox News’ Adam Shaw contributed to this report. 



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