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Gupta Steps Aside

Updated 7: 24 p.m.
By Michael D. Shear and Howard Kurtz
Sanjay Gupta, CNN's chief medical correspondent, has told network officials will not leave his television career to become the U.S. Surgeon General, according to sources familiar with his decision.

Gupta, who had been described as the leading candidate for the public health post, withdrew his name even as President Obama hosted a health care summit at the White House today that Gupta did not attend.

The decision means that the often low-profile job will not get a mass-media jolt from appointing the well-known television celebrity. Gupta, a neurosurgeon who continues to practice medicine, has become ubiquitous on CNN, where he hosts a half-hour show called "House Call "and appears on numerous other programs.

Sources confirmed weeks ago that Obama had offered the position to Gupta and that the neurosurgeon intended to leave his network job for the government post. But no further moves were evident, especially after Obama's first choice for secretary of health and human services, former senator Tom Daschle, was derailed by tax problems.

Gupta, who was once named one of the "sexiest men alive" by People Magazine, was never officially named to the post and continued to report on CNN. He did not issue a statement or explain his decision Thursday. Sources said the medical journalist told CNN executives that he wanted to devote more time to his medical practice and to his duties at the network.

But one source close to him said he was very disheartened by Daschle's fate and fearful he was not going to get a prominent role in the health reform process. Gupta has built a lucrative media empire that includes appearances on CBS as well as CNN and book deals. He had expressed concern to friends about the financial impact on his wife and children.

The choice of Gupta as Surgeon General -- the head of the commissioned corps of the U.S. Public Health Service -- was controversial from the start, as critics questioned his qualifications and experience.

Staff writer Ceci Connolly contributed to this report.

By Web Politics Editor  |  March 5, 2009; 5:40 PM ET
Categories:  B_Blog , Cast of Characters , Health Care  
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Comments

I was sorry to see that John Agwunobi had resigned as Assistant Secretary for Health in 2007. He had experience as Florida's Health Secretary and then went on to become ASH in 2005. He has Public Health experience and is a pediatrician as well as having an MBA. He also has experience of social medicine as he was born in the UK. He would make a very energetic Surgeon General. He's currently SVP at Walmart, maybe President Obama can tempt him back to Washington.

Posted by: janjon | March 5, 2009 9:12 PM | Report abuse

With all due respect to Sanjay Gupta. The surgeon general post, in my humble opinion, should go to someone with extension public health academic background and experience. We all know more medical doctors who are good in their profession but completely inept outside of it. Dr. Gupta did not become popular or "famous" for his skills in his profession, but for his oratory skills and physical appearance. That simply is not the qualifications demanded of the Surgeon General of the U.S.

This choice by Obama, who I fully support in carrying out one of the most challenging tasks any president will have been handed coming into office, was similar to the choice of Sarah Palin by McCain. Not a well thought out selection. And, possibly a bit dangerous one, both for himself and the American people.

Posted by: Sburbnman | March 5, 2009 8:41 PM | Report abuse

Just to clarify to Michael D. Shear, Howard Kurtz, and Ceci Connolly, the correct name is the Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service (not commissioned core).

Posted by: MJEverett13 | March 5, 2009 8:16 PM | Report abuse

For those who aren't familiar with the ways of Washington, Dr. Gupta has about as much of chance as being named and confirmed as Surgeon General as Jimmy Hoffa (The Dead One).

This whole thing was his publicist's dream. For the rest of his life, his bio will read, "...and, in 2009, he declined the nomination to be the Surgeon General of the United States...." or something like that.

This is all so comical...if it weren't so absurd.

Posted by: SwellLevel5 | March 5, 2009 8:08 PM | Report abuse

Apu could smell public embarrassment so he pulled out before his tax papers got exposed at CNN.

Posted by: sapitos44 | March 5, 2009 8:00 PM | Report abuse

I hope the administration will take a serious look at Dr Alfredo Vigil, MD, currently the Secretary of the Department of Health in New Mexico. A look at his resume shows a career-long commitment to public service (http://www.health.state.nm.us/doh-sec.html), including extending healthcare to the underserved populations in this country.

Posted by: tbahait | March 5, 2009 8:00 PM | Report abuse

Good for Gupta? I suppose. The way's open now for Chicago cancer specialist Dr. I. Ishmael al-Talibani, a leading promoter of Koranic medicine and top bundler for the President's campaigns.

Posted by: HassanAliAl-Hadoodi | March 5, 2009 7:58 PM | Report abuse

With all due respect to Sanjay Gupta. The surgeon general post, in my humble opinion, should go to someone with extension public health academic background and experience. We all know more medical doctors who are good in their profession but completely inept outside of it. Dr. Gupta did not become popular or "famous" for his skills in his profession, but for his oratory skills and physical appearance. That simply is not the qualifications demanded of the Surgeon General of the U.S.

This choice by Obama, who I fully support in carrying out one of the most challenging tasks any president will have been handed coming into office, was similar to the choice of Sarah Palin by McCain. Not a well thought out selection. And, possibly a bit dangerous one, both for himself and the American people.

Posted by: Sburbnman | March 5, 2009 7:56 PM | Report abuse

Maybe Dr. Gupta used Turbo Tax like Secretary Timothy Geithner.

Posted by: edgar_sousa | March 5, 2009 7:54 PM | Report abuse

back to Chicken Noodle News.....

Posted by: angriestdogintheworld | March 5, 2009 7:49 PM | Report abuse

I have not trusted Mr. Gupta since his comments regarding Michael Moore's documentary on healthcare.

Mr. Gupta's comments turned out to be just as I thought...LIES. I wonder who paid him to lie ... healthcare insurance lobbyists?

Posted by: usyankee | March 5, 2009 7:47 PM | Report abuse

It is quite clear that Sanjay Gupta became contraversial as soon as his name was floated for attorney general. Paul Krugman wrote a column about Gupta's complicity with the pharmaceuticals and Gupta's snarky put down of Michael Moore's Sicko. For god's sake, it is pretty obvious that the Obama administraion lost interest in Gupta and gave him an easy way out. Sanjay Gupta is in it for the money and now we know that the Surgeon General salary will cut into his deep pharmaceutical pockets.

Posted by: imli | March 5, 2009 7:46 PM | Report abuse

Jack Kevorkian would be a good choice based on his experience.

Posted by: 12oreo | March 5, 2009 7:45 PM | Report abuse

There is something more to this that we don't know. Obviously, this appointment would have improved his financial prospects in the long run, not to mention the great privilege of serving your country in time of need. I never liked the CNN corporate propagandist in the first place. DR. OZ, DR. OZ, DR. OZ. He is America's most trusted Dr. and something tells me he would jump at the privilege.

Posted by: earlyblue | March 5, 2009 7:43 PM | Report abuse

The man can count....
This job does not pay enough!!!
Thanks Doctor, we appreciate...Next timeI see you on the tube, I will switch to something more entertaining...

Posted by: gpernot | March 5, 2009 7:31 PM | Report abuse


Dr. Howard Dean! Yes!

Howard Dean!

Howard Dean!

Howard Dean!


Posted by: dotellen | March 5, 2009 7:27 PM | Report abuse

Gupta is a Board Certified brain surgeon not a politician. To call such a man uninformed is just plain stupidity on the part of whoever said it.

Posted by: cathyjs | March 5, 2009 7:24 PM | Report abuse

I guess he knew he wasn't going to get it!

Posted by: FloridaCitizen | March 5, 2009 7:15 PM | Report abuse

Carolyn Kennedy-Sturgeon General

Posted by: bobhobard | March 5, 2009 7:12 PM | Report abuse

Gupta realized he was in over his head. He's the most uninformed physician I've ever heard. He's a total media pretty-boy and has no interest in serving the public. That doesn't further his career. He likes having his face plastered on the boob-tube every day, sounding authoritative about the stupid "topic of the moment". Good riddance.

Posted by: bobhobard | March 5, 2009 7:10 PM | Report abuse

I nominate Dr. Phil as Surgeon General.

Posted by: Bitter_Bill | March 5, 2009 7:06 PM | Report abuse

How about Carolyn Kennedy as Surgeon General?

Posted by: llrllr | March 5, 2009 6:55 PM | Report abuse

I would give Gupta credit for realizing O'Bomba's days are Numbered!

Never before, has a President been "Campaigning" AFTER winning!

I am sure I am not the only one noticing the "O'Bomba" Billboards!

Sheesh, straight out of Chavez's playbook!

The Market's Collapse, combined with the tainted "Picks" Obasama has tried to foist off on us;

are opening that Back Door at the White House!

He will be gone one way or another within a few Months!

He NEVER should have ever been allowed to Run for a Job he was so un-Qualified for!

We needed a seasoned Executive, NOT a Junior Congressional Lawyer Clown!

Mitt Romney is the Man we NEED!

Posted by: SAINT---The | March 5, 2009 6:48 PM | Report abuse

The hag selected by the Tax Cheat, Geithner of the US Treasury, as his deputy dog just withdrew her name..fer cheating on something or another, imho?..Is everyone OBama wants to work for him a tax cheat? Sure doesn't say much for our future, now does it?

Posted by: whetsell | March 5, 2009 6:37 PM | Report abuse

President Obama's aides, fiercely antimonarchist, anti-imperialist and anti-just about anything else save their being exclusively the revolutionary vanguard (news to you, Hugo Chavez?), "googled" Gupta and came up with Chandragupta and the Mauryan Empire, a no-no to Hollywood's nose-picking semiliterate millionaire revolutionaries. "Can we put Brad Pitt in a miniskirt for THAT!? Dude's got class!", hollered one of Obamism's more intellectually adept as Ms. Inevitable's used 'bortin' blade was applied to the rumored nomination.

Posted by: sawargos | March 5, 2009 6:35 PM | Report abuse

Hooray! I'm a Democrat, but for some reason Dr. Gupta turns me off, as I do CNN whenever he shows up.

Posted by: wgmadden | March 5, 2009 6:35 PM | Report abuse

So much for service to your country...apparently being a celebrity and cashing-in "while your hot" is more important. Where are the selfless, patriotic statesman that made this country great? Perhaps Sanjay Gupta does not feel the need to serve this country? Evidently, it is much easier to take from it as much as you can, when you can, during a time of fleeting celebrity then it is to do your best to contribute to its future. And, to be asked directly by the President to serve, shameful...I for one will never watch or read another Sanjay Gupta show or article again.

Posted by: richtrev | March 5, 2009 6:34 PM | Report abuse

There’s a movement afoot to persuade President Obama to nominate George Lundberg,MD as SG. Dr. Lundberg was Editor-in-Chief of JAMA and has the gravitas and moral fibre to advise the President about health issues that matter to the people.
Please read and sign this Petition to support Dr. Lundberg's nomination:
http://petitionspot.com/petitions/drlundbergforSG

Posted by: jribble1 | March 5, 2009 6:24 PM | Report abuse

Another tax cheat. But at least he's smart enough to get out before someone makes him pay what he owes.

Posted by: Emma3 | March 5, 2009 6:21 PM | Report abuse

Gupta wasn't about to work for the government at a much lower salary...I'm sure

Posted by: IvanSWhite | March 5, 2009 6:19 PM | Report abuse

Another tax cheat. He's just smart enough to get out before someone makes him pay his back taxes.

Posted by: Emma3 | March 5, 2009 6:19 PM | Report abuse

I think the real reason is Gupta's financial ties to corporations. As Surgeon General, he would disclose many of these financial relationships which would complicate his history of advocating for certain medical therapies/drugs, as well as opinions on health care policy in regards to insurance companies. Any journalist out there care to dig deeper?

Posted by: thewrittenword | March 5, 2009 6:17 PM | Report abuse

Maybe this will open the door for Dr. Howard Dean, whom I always felt would be the best possible choice for HHS, and even FDA would be a large enough and challenging enough job for this great American. Here are two of my articles on Howard Dean for HHS:
http://www.opednews.com/articles/Vermont-Senator-Bernie-San-by-Silla-Brush-090209-701.html

and

http://www.opednews.com/articles/The-United-States-Needs-Dr-by-Stephen-Fox-
090203-382.html

Please take the time to email both President Obama and VP Biden in support of
Dr. Dean as Surgeon General; I believe the very future of American Health and Illness
Prevention is at stake; I welcome your insights and ideas!

Thank You!
Stephen Fox, Editor, New Mexico Sun News
stephen@santafefineart.com

Posted by: stephen6 | March 5, 2009 6:17 PM | Report abuse

so glad he passed on this one. what ever the reason it's okay, now lets move on to someone willing to get the job done. someone with a patriotic spirit.

Posted by: thevoodoodoll | March 5, 2009 6:12 PM | Report abuse

Slumdog deserves another Oscar.


This time for having the common sense to withdraw his nomination before the tax s/hit hits the fan.

The time to not paying your taxes is now.

Boycott the IRS and the banksters.

Posted by: sapitos44 | March 5, 2009 6:11 PM | Report abuse

Slumdog deserves another Oscar.


This time for having the common sense to withdrawing his nomination before the tax s/hit hits the fan.

The time to not paying your taxes is now.

Boycott the IRS and the banksters.

Posted by: sapitos44 | March 5, 2009 6:10 PM | Report abuse

More tax problems, eh? Maybe we should call this "The Most Ethical Government that is NOT in Jail"?

Posted by: Fiftycaltx | March 5, 2009 6:10 PM | Report abuse

Bet he didn't pay his taxes!!!!!

Posted by: bandsposs | March 5, 2009 6:07 PM | Report abuse

He's a slumdog millionaire. He does not need the government.

Posted by: Bitter_Bill | March 5, 2009 6:07 PM | Report abuse

another great job, rahmie!!!

Posted by: w04equals666 | March 5, 2009 6:05 PM | Report abuse

Good riddance. Serving a president and your country takes selflessness, which is not a characteristic of celebrity doctors.

Posted by: Dawny_Chambers | March 5, 2009 6:02 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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