Wednesday, January 07, 2009


I stopped watching CNN when they called on Dr. Phil for proffering his deep insights on student psychology after the Virginia Tech shootings. Since then the quality of the channel has just kept on sliding in my opinion. Where Fox News brings you the best of cherry-picking and biased right-wing propaganda under the guise of being fair and balanced, CNN smothers you either with sensationalist news items, unqualified "experts" (Dr. Phil, Deepak Chopra and a horde of others) or mostly completely irrelevant entertainment covering the likes of Anna Nicole Smith. The Onion might be the only decent news source to follow now.

In spite of this I respect some of CNN's correspondents, especially Anderson Cooper who I think tries his best to do an objective and fair job. Another correspondent who I respect is Sanjay Gupta, and that's not just because he is a professor at my school. I have always been impressed with his sheer stamina and wide knowledge of issues, his capacity to traverse the globe and country and report on diverse stories, and his (generally) sincere and unbiased efforts to report accurately and present all the relevant sides. While he did have his bad moments (like the one with Michael Moore), Gupta usually does a good job. Most of his shortcomings I attribute to CNN, whose lazy buffoons like their correspondents to focus on sensationalist or unimportant news items.

So I personally feel satisfied upon hearing that Gupta has been tapped for US Surgeon General. The Surgeon General may not be the Secretary of State, but he has the power to do a significant amount of good...and bad. Remember this lady? (although I think her dismissal was completely unjustified). In an age where bug-resistant infectious diseases, poison from abroad, controversies about AIDS and abortion and stem cell research riddle the front pages, I would think that the Surgeon General's post is one of the more important posts in the country.

That does not mean I am in complete agreement with Gupta's appointment; for instance I don't know how qualified he would be to make decisions at the highest level or fend off bureaucracy. But if not for any other reason, I feel gratified that the administration would at least pick an intelligent, young, knowledgeable and driven person who would ask the right questions and draw on his extensive background. Gupta knows about the important issues and because of his reporting knows the right sources to plumb regarding them. At least in principle he should be able to make some informed decisions.

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