“So sad,” said Sara K. Smith in NBC Philadelphia. CNN celebrity doctor Sanjay Gupta has declined an offer from President Obama, dashing “our collective dreams” of having a “sexy surgeon general,” instead of the “lecturey old coot” or other eccentric usually tapped to tell us “to eat less and exercise.” Gupta says that, with a third daughter on the way, he wants more family time, but others say it’s “about the dough.”
Gupta “has built a lucrative media empire,” certainly, said Michael Shear and Howard Kurtz in The Washington Post, but sources say he was also “very disheartened” by the derailing of Tom Daschle's nomination as health secretary, and worried he’d have little say over health reform. Whatever the reason, the low-profile office is no longer getting a “mass-media jolt.”
It may be a loss for the surgeon general’s office, but it’s a welcome win for journalism, said David Zurawik in the Baltimore Sun. Being a known top contender for the position tainted Gupta’s reporting on health policy, just as all “news anchors and correspondents” have been made suspect by the journalists who have joined the Obama team.
Gupta would have been a strong pick, since the surgeon general’s job is mostly to “look good on camera and deliver scripted lines,” said Ed Morrissey in Hot Air. But his “strange” withdrawal makes him only the latest Obama nominee to bow out or be dropped. It looks as if Obama’s staffing “flops” are becoming “more like the rule than the exception.”