Blame Game: Media Ignore Acting Surgeon General to Blame NRA, Conservatives for Ebola

Conservative senators faulted for blocking Obama’s anti-gun activist nominee for nation’s doctor.

The Obama administration has taken heat during the Ebola crisis as many Americans worry not enough has been done. In response, the administration appointed a lawyer to be the country’s Ebola czar.

But many on the left and in the liberal news media are blaming Senate conservatives and the National Rifle Association (NRA) for halting the confirmation of President Barack Obama’s anti-gun and pro-Obamacare nominee for surgeon general. MSNBC employees editorialized that the NRA was making the Ebola crisis “worse,” and hosts on CNN and other news networks complained that Obama’s nominee had not yet been confirmed.

Conveniently, the media ignored the fact that there was an acting surgeon general already in place who was a highly qualified public health professional.

Obama appointed Ron Klain as “Ebola czar” on Oct. 17 to coordinate government efforts on the outbreak. Surrounding the appointment, the media renewed its attacks on conservative senators for not yet confirming 36-year-old, Dr. Vivek Murthy. Obama nominated Murthy for surgeon general in November 2013. Newsweek exemplified the media’s view on Oct. 17 when it asked in a headline, “Where’s The Surgeon General When You Need One?”

However, the broadcast news networks entirely “forgot” to mention that there was already a highly qualified acting surgeon general. Not once did ABC, CBS or NBC news mention Acting Surgeon General, Rear Admiral Boris D. Lushniak. In 22 stories mentioning Ebola czar or Ron Klain as of Oct. 21, none mentioned that anyone was currently doing the work of the surgeon general.

Lushniak has an impressive resume. He received his medical degree (M.D.) from Northwestern University in 1983 and Masters in Public Health (M.P.H.) from Harvard University in 1984. He started his career with the government in 1988 at the Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS), part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and has worked at various other government health agencies since then. He was Deputy Surgeon General from November 2010, until July 17, 2013, when he was appointed Acting Surgeon General.

Despite having a public health professional already acting as surgeon general, cable and broadcast media as well as left-wing organizations have blamed the Senate for not confirming a Surgeon General.

"We haven’t had a Surgeon General — who is kind of the nation’s leading public health official, or at least the voice of it — for a year,” CNN host Candy Crowley complained as she pressed Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, for answers during “State of the Union” Oct. 19.

Chuck Todd, host of NBC’s “Meet the Press,” asked Senator Bob Casey, Jr., D-Pa., on Oct. 19, “Senator Casey, why don’t we have a Surgeon General confirmed” nearly a year Murthy’s nomination. Casey responded, “It’s Washington dysfunction, Chuck. It’s a simple as that. We should have one and I think that’s part of the problem.”

“It has been nearly a year since Vivek Murthy was nominated by President Obama to serve as the next Surgeon General, but thanks in large part to the gun lobby and their Republican allies in the Senate, there has yet to be any movement on his confirmation,” Adam Peck, Deputy Editor of Digital at Think Progress, wrote on Oct. 19. Think Progress is part of the George Soros funded liberal group Center for American Progress.

An Oct. 2, editorial co-written by an MSNBC host and producer said, “Thanks to Senate dysfunction and NRA opposition, we don’t have a surgeon general right now.” The headline of that editorial blamed the NRA for “making the Ebola crisis worse.”

Although MSNBC whined that “dysfunction,” was holding up Murthy’s confirmation, conservatives in the Senate have serious questions about whether he is fit for the position of surgeon general given his controversial political views and his lack of medical experience.  

Murthy has been politically active, and according to a post published by on Mar. 18, 2014, “Murthy’s done a downright terrible job of concealing his liberalism.” Murthy helped start a group called “Doctors for America” in 2008, which lobbied on behalf of Obamacare. He has also publicly voiced anti-gun views.

He tweeted on Oct. 26, 2012, “Guns are a health care issue,” and that politicians were “putting lives at risk b/c they're scared of NRA.”

In addition to his left-wing political activism, Murthy’s lack of medical experience was an area of concern during his confirmation process. Former Surgeon General Dr. Richard Carmona publicly voiced his opposition to Murthy’s appointment in a Washington Examiner op-ed on March 18.

“Murthy is only a few years out of his residency and has very limited public health education and experience. I believe he is unqualified to effectively serve as the nation's doctor.” Carmona said.

In his view, Murthy was not yet qualified to fulfill the responsibilities of the surgeon general. “The U.S. surgeon general is responsible for providing government leaders and the American public with the best scientific information available about how to respond to catastrophic public health events and emerging public health threats, as well as ways to improve their general health and well-being,” Carmona said.