Paging the “Good Doctor”—why Gupta is the wrong choice

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BY PAUL KRUGMAN

Sanjay Gupta debates Michael Moore on Larry King.

JANUARY 6, 2009, 4:44 PM | [print_link]

The trouble with Sanjay Gupta

So apparently Obama plans to appoint CNN’s Sanjay Gupta as Surgeon General. 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.

Sanjay Gupta practically admits he lied on Larry King. 

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. And appointing Gupta now, although it’s a small thing, is just another example of the lack of accountability that always seems to be the rule when you get things wrong in a socially acceptable way.

Update: Many commenters don’t seem to get the point. Gupta didn’t say “Michael Moore is an annoying blowhard”; he didn’t say “We question his interpretation of the evidence”; he said he “fudged the facts”. In other words, he accused Moore of lying. That’s a very strong accusation, which had better be backed by solid evidence. Instead, we had CNN misreading a number from Moore; CNN objecting to Moore using a projected health care spending number for 2007 instead of an actual number for 2005 (and the projection was right, by the way); CNN accusing Moore of not showing a number that was in fact right there in the movie. And Gupta did not apologize, except for the misread number.

Nobel Prize winner Paul Krugman writes a column for The New York Times. With this opinion (Conscience of a Liberal), Krugman stepped outside the establishmentarian demarcation that his employer subtly enforces. We wonder how often he’ll be able to pull this feat. 

4 comments on “Paging the “Good Doctor”—why Gupta is the wrong choice
  1. Some of the things i noticed in the first few minutes.

    One of the things the Gupta says right at the beginning is to affirm his ‘expert’ opinion. He states: “as a doctor and a journalist” while he was admitting to a mistake.

    He blinks a lot – has anyone else noticed that these charlatans blink a lot.

    Larry controls it early and states that “we want to be balanced”.

    Stating that the website and the movie don’t jive. This is but a smear piece trying to use numbers and key words such as “cherry picking” to bedazzle the viewer. He keeps stating that they are projected numbers to push his dis-creditation even further.

    “just because you say their wrong, doesn’t make it wrong”. Larry telling Michael not to interrupt.

    Then they go to “do you like the movie?” And talk about the fact that it was a good movie.

    Larry controls the situation and conveniently cuts to commercial. Then we wants to speed through it.

    Gupta demonizes “free healthcare”, yadda yadda and good point from Larry.

    I watched the whole thing when it ran and was disgusted; I couldn’t sit through it again.

    Fact is that both Larry King and Sanjay Gupta are stooges. They twist facts, discredit real information and lie.

    Boo to Obama but really no surprise. So where is this change that he was bringing?

    So far his team choices only prove to me that Obama truly will be the ‘token black guy’.

  2. Krugman’s piece is strong, solid–and brief. Brief and pointed enough so that more people will read it and remember it. He’s got the appropriate links so readers who want more info can easily obtain it. (One of many advantages of internet-reporting over newsprint–and one of the reasons more Americans are now relying more on the Net than on newsprint to make sense of this world. Alas, though, TV-reportage is still number one as a news source!)

    The You-tube of the Larry King show, featuring Moore and Gupta is excellent. It reveals Gupta as a smooth, fast-talking apologist and operative for the system as it is. He takes Moore on for advocating “free healthcare,” and laments that “France is drowning in taxes” to pay for its healthcare system. Moore points out that Gupta is actually quoting him about “France drowning in taxes,” then makes the commanding argument that the French are getting a lot more for their money–for their taxes–than the US consumers of healthcare services. For one thing, about 2 dozen other countries in the developed world are providing superior healthcare services to their citizens. 47 million Americans are without health insurance here. (Moore doesn’t note in this King exchange–though he does in SICKO–that an even more significant number of Americans are under-insured!).

    Gupta’s strategy is to obfuscate. Towards the end, he asks almost plaintively, “Do you really want to turn over our most precious asset–our health–to our government?” Gupta shows he’s nothing but a Milton Friedman-type free-marketeer: competition and profits first. Moore’s rebuttals are insightful: In fact, our government did a lot of things right in the past. Medicare and Social Security are two notable examples. Gupta interjects that Medicare probably won’t be around in 20 years, and Moore responds that if we keep wasting money on wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere–it probably won’t be. Score a big win for Moore. We’re drowning in taxes, too, we’re drowning in debt (now quickly catching us like pincers on our nipples) and if we don’t improve our infrastructure immediately (like yesterday), including, of course, our healthcare system–the amount of sludge coming over the mountain is likely to drown us all.

  3. Krugman’s comments were somewhat understated, as Gupta is simply an horrendous choice. He’s a dreadful medical journalist, and about as likely to shake up the obscene health care system as the AMA. This is yet another of Obama’s sorrowful and revealing selections. Obama is strikingly similar to Bill Clinton in character, a chameleon for all seasons with no foundational principles.

    E D

  4. The above comments pretty much sum up the points I was going to make, and they do it with more insight and brilliance than I could muster…so let me just add a minor comment, mainly to vent off some of my frustration with Obama: We all can see now that the man is the perfect demagogue wished for by the powers that be to defuse anti-systemic pressures for at least a decade. His choices to date have been uniformly bad or even catastrophic (i.e., Rahm Emanuel), and let us NOT forget that Obama, for the usual opportunistic reasons, was prominent in the scare brigade selling us the Wall Street bailout or else, which as anyone can see these days has done precious little to stimulate the economy because it was crafted and given to the same thieving insiders that brought the calamity upon us.

    He’s a despicable Uncle Tom, and the adulation of the media that created him is simply insufferable. Now we’ll have to live with the “Inauguration Ball” extravaganzas, which the whorish media, of course, will carpet bomb us with. What a disgraceful society. But then again when the superrich rule it’s always like that.

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