Say what, Sanjay?

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The group Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (fair.org) has an interesting blog posting regarding Barack Obama's announcement that he intends to nominate CNN health correspondent Sanjay Gupta to be the nation's next surgeon general.

FAIR referenced a Washington Post story that noted Gupta, if confirmed by the Senate, "would provide the administration with a skilled television personality to help market what is planned to be a massive reorganization of the U.S. health system."

But FAIR blogger Isabel Macdonald is apparently less than thrilled by the announcement, reminding readers of what she called "Gupta's evidence-free attack on Michael Moore's documentary Sicko" last year.

Referring readers to a FAIR piece written last November (Action Alert, "CNN vs. Sicko," July 11, 2007), Macdonald added: "... it would seem that surgeon general nominee's most relevant experience in communicating about healthcare reform is arguing dishonestly against proposals for a single-payer healthcare system."

Also weighing in on the subject was one of the best columnists writing today, Paul Krugman of The New York Times, who wrote:

"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."

Krugman said he was bothered, too, by the picture painted that "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."

What's good about all this is it helps keep the debate regarding a single-payer health care system alive. Obama is opposed to such an approach. If the right called him a socialist just for wanting to return tax rates for the richest few percent of Americans to the level they were at under Bill Clinton, just think of how viciously he would have been attacked had he actually supported having the government cover the costs of health care services for everyone. You know: the way it's done in other industrialized nations.

Leading the way in trying to get the United States to join that club is Detroit Rep. John Conyers, who continues pushing for Congress to pass what's referred to as the United States National Health Insurance Act. His H.R. 676 has the support a broad array of national and international labor unions including the UAW, United Steel Workers and International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. Also endorsing the measure are the American Public Health Association, the NAACP, the National Organization for Women and Physicians for a National Health Program. That's just a short list. To read more go to: johnconyers.com/healthcare.


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