Don’t look now, but MSNBC is sticking up for CNN. On Countdown, Keith Olbermann slightly mocked the rumored appointment of CNN medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta as surgeon general, but once the jokes evaporated, Keith the Obama Man quickly worked to underline Dr. Gupta’s bona fides:
President-Elect Obama`s apparent choice for surgeon general. No, no Dr. Phil. Not Doogie Howser. Dr. Sanjay Gupta of CNN. All right, let it out. Your first thought possibly something like this, isn`t this like making Judge Judy the attorney general? Gupta served as a White House Fellow in 1997, where he advised and crafted policy for then First Lady Hillary Clinton. He is a skilled neurosurgeon, who while reporting for CNN from Iraq, performed five different brain surgeries, including one on a two-year-old child. And he has spent seven years in the communications business, which is presumably why sources have told the Washington Post’s Howard Kurtz that Obama believes Dr. Gupta would be the most high-profile surgeon general ever.
For more, he turned to liberal American Prospect writer Ezra Klein, who insisted that Dr. Gupta is uniquely qualified not only to sell healthy advice to Americans, but a healthy dose of medical socialism:
OLBERMANN: As TV as he is, and I`m speaking from personal experience, he is transparently TV. Is he among the most qualified candidates for this job?
EZRA KLEIN: He is. If you think about surgeon general, on the one hand, he should be a doctor and he is. He`s a neuro-surgeon. And he still — one thing important about him, he still publishes. He still practices. He`s a practicing neurosurgeon, as far as I know. But the other thing is, the Surgeon General position is a position of education now. It’s a position, since really the cigarettes — since you began having the Surgeon General weigh in on every smoking decision anybody makes, it`s become a position of national public health.
And he’s more trained for that than any other physician in the country. I don`t think you could find anyone else who has both the degree he has and the amount of media experience he has. One thing you didn’t mention in the intro here is that he has also been given health policy responsibilities. He will be part of the health reform effort.
I think that’s important, too. Part of what he`s going to be doing there is selling the administration`s health care plan. Again on that, he has enormous experience communicating medical and health policy, for that matter, concepts to the public. so for what this position is, which is sort of a medical communications position, he`s sort of uniquely qualified….
So what you`re going to have in Gupta is a guy who was the most credible, in the mind of the viewer, media doctor around in quite some time, who has enormous public recognition, and who will be out there as a medical profession, arguing for Obama`s health care plan.
There were no jokes about how working for CNN is a great training ground for selling liberal policy ideas to the American public.