Sanjay Gupta vs. Michael Moore on the national health care system on Larry King Live, July 2007
The Washington Post is reporting that Barack Obama has offered the job of surgeon general to Sanjay Gupta. He’s expected to accept the job, the Post says, citing two unnamed sources. Gupta declined the Post’s request for comment.
Besides his CNN gig, Gupta also appears on CBS and writes for Time Magazine. He was a White House Fellow and a special adviser to Hillary Clinton when she was First Lady. Oh, and he’s a neurosurgeon at Emory and associate chief of the neurosurgery service at Atlanta’s Grady Memorial Hospital.
There’s a certain logic to picking a TV talking head to be surgeon general, because the surgeon general is largely a talking head. The top doc does oversee the 6,000-member Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service, but the real work of the job is traveling around the country, using the title as a bully pulpit to advance a public health agenda.
Of course, it would be nice if he used that bully pulpit to advocate for Universal Health Care, which would be the single best news for public health in this country, but it doesn't appear that Dr. Gupta thinks there's a problem. Paul Krugman agrees:
I don’t have a problem with Gupta’s qualifications. But I do remember his mugging of Michael Moore over Sicko. You don’t have to like Moore or his film; but Gupta specifically claimed that Moore “fudged his facts”, when the truth was that on every one of the allegedly fudged facts, Moore was actually right and CNN was wrong.
What bothered me about the incident was that it was what Digby would call Village behavior: Moore is an outsider, he’s uncouth, so he gets smeared as unreliable even though he actually got it right. It’s sort of a minor-league version of the way people who pointed out in real time that Bush was misleading us into war are to this day considered less “serious” than people who waited until it was fashionable to reach that conclusion.