Thursday, January 8, 2009

I Thought Something Smelled Out There...

...and it's the idea of nominating Sanjay Gupta as Surgeon-General. Paul Krugman sparked my memory:
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.
I think that Dr. Gupta is a publicity-hound and, despite being a neurosurgeon, a less-than-brilliant medical reporter. I've found fault with several of his reports on CNN, particularly his story last fall on John McCain's health care plan. I thought that Gupta's reporting on McCain's ludicrous "plan" was misleading and insubstantial, and apparently, the Columbia Journalism Review agreed. Gary Schwitzer at the University of Minnesota's School of Journalism & Mass Communication has also had his problems with Gupta's independence and professionalism.

Gutpa may be a neurosurgeon, but he is not a leader in his profession; he's a celebrity, the Dr. Phil of medicine and medical reporting. Frankly, I think this is like nominating Paris Hilton for Secretary of HUD. It's based more on fame than competence, and it's a bad idea.

Looks like John Conyers agrees with me. The Huffington Post reports that Rep. Conyers "has written a letter to Democratic colleagues urging them to join him in publicly opposing the nomination of Dr. Sanjay Gupta for Surgeon General." In a letter to his fellow Democratics, Conyers, the chairman of the powerful House Judiciary Committee, wrote:
[...] there are highly experienced medical professionals who question whether Dr. Gupta has the necessary experience or even the medical background to be in charge of some 6,000 physicians or more who work in the United States Public Health Service. Gerard M. Farrel, Executive Director of the Commissioned Officers Association, stated in the January 7, 2008 Washington Post that Dr. Gupta will certainly face a "credibility gap" because he never served in the National Health Service Corp, and furthermore, does not have the "experience or qualifications to be the leader of the nation's public health service." Clearly, it is not in the best interests of the nation to have someone like this who lacks the requisite experience needed to oversee the federal agency that provides crucial health care assistance to some of the poorest and most underserved communities in America.
C'mon, how long are we going to believe in the cult of celebrity?

No comments: