Tom CoburnTomCoburn

What was the accusation?

Representative Tom Coburn (Oklahoma), head of the Congressional Family Caucus, caused quite the uproar in 1997 when he suggested that NBC took network television “to an all-time low, with full-frontal nudity, violence and profanity” when it chose to air Steven Spielberg’s holocaust film Schindler’s List.  He said that the network’s decision to air the movie should outrage parents and “decent-minded individuals everywhere.”

Key Apologia Strategies:

Mortification, Bolstering

Partial Video of Tom Coburn Defending his Statement on the House Floor (peers attack Coburn until he responds at the 10 minute mark)


Transcript of Coburn’s Statement on the House Floor (February 27, 1997)

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.  Permit me to take a moment to clarify a statement that I issued yesterday criticizing NBC’s broadcast of Schindler’s List last Sunday evening, which was broadcast during primetime viewing hours.  I would want the ladies and gentlemen of this body as well as this country to not have any mistake.  I believe this movie is a landmark movie.  A remarkable movie that profoundly affected me as well as my wife and our family as we watched it.  Indeed, I instructed my daughters to view this movie and I’ve had many discussions with friends and neighbors alike about the atrocities of the Holocaust that were made aware to us and made apparent to us through this movie.

I feel terrible that my criticism of NBC for airing this movie has been misinterpreted as a criticism of ‘Schindler’s List,’ or the millions of Jews who died senselessly during the Holocaust. To all those that I’ve offended, I offer an apology. And I personally apologize for appearing insensitive to the worst atrocities known to humankind.

As many of you know, I’m a practicing physician, dealing with life and death issues almost every day.  I have devoted most of my adult life to working with religious groups across the spectrum.  Religious tolerance is the hallmark of my professional and personal life.  However, I continue to be disturbed by the new television program rating system recently implemented by the broadcast and cable television network.  I’ve been a leader on this issue since I arrived in Congress.  As many of you will recall, I offered an amendment on the floor of this house to the Telecommunication Reform Act of 1996. An amendment that would encourage parental responsibility for what their children watch on television. My amendment which passed the house would have accelerated… (Video ends).


Congressman apologizes for ‘List’ remarks (1997, February 27). Los Angeles Times. Retrieved from:

Seelye, K. Q. (1997, March 2). Congressman meets Holocaust. New York Times. Retrieved from:

Stern, C. (1997, February 26). Coburn apologizes for blasting NBC. Variety. Retrieved from: