Tag Archives: CNN

Gupta’s Influence Trumps Inexperience

Dr. Sanjay Gupta

Dr. Sanjay Gupta

Few would dispute that the Obama campaign represented the ultimate confluence of media and politics. The announcement that CNN chief health correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta is the leading contender to be the next Surgeon General has furthered Obama’s mastery of media in promoting his message. Many of my colleagues in the medical field have derided this choice, pointing to the fact that Gupta’s training as a neurosurgeon, coupled with his relative youth, makes him unqualified to be the leading spokesperson on public health issues like diabetes, obesity, and coronary artery disease. However, I believe that Gupta’s potential appointment actually has the potential to be a brilliant choice. Gupta’s background makes him uniquely suited to the position of Surgeon General. Over the last few decades, the Surgeon General’s role has morphed into the chief communicator of public health matters. Other than the tenure of C. Everett Koop, the surgeon general, in recent times, has become a largely invisible position. Koop stood out because he had the charisma to attract an audience, and the ability to explain complex issues to Americans in terms they could understand. In short, he was a transformative figure who millions of Americans could identify by sight alone. I suspect most Americans would be hard-pressed to identify the current Surgeon General. In contrast, millions of Americans invite Gupta into their home on a nightly basis; he has proven he can communicate in laymen’s terms. And while most public health issues wouldn’t ordinarily be handled by a neurosurgeon, Gupta would serve as a spokesperson for these matters, not the clinician – a key difference. The choice clearly demonstrates Obama’s continued mastery of not just the roles media and communication currently play, but their potential in shaping our lives. – Matt Buchalter

The Death Of The Fourth Estate

For those of you, like myself, who have been skeptical of the soft Iraq war coverage of the last few years have had their worst fears confirmed. This week The New York Times revealed an extensive covert plot from the Pentagon that involved deploying close to 100 pseudo political ‘pundits’ with scripted pro-war propaganda aimed at controlling public opinion. And we’re not just talking about Fox News. The Times reports that these ‘pundits,’ or as the White House calls them, “message force multipliers,” infiltrated Fox, CBS, NBC, CNN, ABC and MSNBC news programs. These pundits were recruited by the Bush Administration to disseminate misleading war information and false praises of the U.S. war effort. The result is Bush’s most duplicitous breach of public trust since taking office. Gone is the watchdog role of the media, the Fourth Estate designed to safeguard our democratic virtues and keep public officials honest. If this violation of federal law, which prohibits government sanctioned covert propaganda, doesn’t warrant impeachment, then clearly the system is broken. If you care about safeguarding the integrity of information flow, act now and tell Congress that this is unacceptable.