1.09.2009

The trouble with Krugman

A couple of years ago an Army nurse, hawking her new book on C-SPAN, paid homage to Dr. Sanjay Gupta. The neurosurgeon, seen regularly on CNN, had laid down his reporter’s microphone in Iraq, slipped into the field hospital tent where she was stationed and performed operations which saved the lives of soldiers with head trauma. To this nurse, Gupta was nothing short of a true hero.

To be honest, I don’t like to listen to Dr. Gupta as the medical breakthroughs he often reports seem only affordable for the filthy rich. But, after hearing this Army nurse’s stories, my respect for him rose.

President-elect Barack Obama, as you know, plans to nominate Dr. Gupta for the post of surgeon general. About 15 minutes after this news broke, the far left went nuts.

Enter Paul Krugman, New York Times columnist, Princeton professor with a Ph.D. from MIT, and current Nobel Laureate in economics. Krugman tells us “The Trouble with Sanjay Gupta” (LINK).

Well, I trust Krugman, who has for years been dead-on about this country’s economic path, so I couldn’t wait to sink my teeth into this one. Krugman’s complaint about Gupta? Are you ready for this? Gupta reported that Michael Moore in his film “Sicko” “fudged the facts.”

Although Moore has been known to do just that in some of his terrific documentaries – the fact-check site Spinsanity.org (LINK) once stated Moore is as bad as Ann Coulter at fact-bending – Krugman says Moore’s film was accurate.

The really interesting part of what Krugman had to say follows:

“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.”

On last night’s edition of “Countdown,” MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann, who has said Gupta’s nomination would be like naming Judge Judy as attorney general, went a step farther – wondering if Krugman’s remarks mean Obama’s appointments are part of “the Washington culture – if you’re on the inside, you get the job, while those crazy left-wing nuts are frozen out.”

Yep, same Olbermann. One of the NBC/MSNBC pompon-waving Obama Cheering Squad throughout the presidential campaign.

Now, Congressman John Conyers (D-Michigan) is going after Gupta. Conyers supports “single-payer” insurance, and that was the context of Gupta’s complaints about “Sicko.”

The bright side of a Gupta appointment, to me, is his strong support for preventive medicine, which, as he has stated, is a lot less expensive than treating people after they get sick. I could get behind a surgeon general who pushs a wellness agenda.

***

Related DemWit posts:

“Prediction,” 11/19/08

“A plan for the 44th president,” 11/17/08

7 comments:

Good Southern Man said...

Krugman seems to have more of a problem with CNN and with Gupta as CNN's representative. I do not know Gupta but I know that an opinion about the facts of a Hollywood documentary means nothing in relation to the position as Surgeon General. I have heard many conflicting arguments as to the validity of this movie and it really makes no difference whether they were right or wrong. I liked the movie because it made me think and possibly made many open their eyes BUT it is still a Hollywood movie.

Bill Sumrall said...

Expect more "buyer's remorse" and "gotta get our street cred back" comments from Keith Olbermann and others in the media who took to heart Dave Barry's year-end wrap-up joke (I'm paraphrasing) that Obama's election was cause for massive celebration ... inside the New York Times newsroom.
To also paraphrase Shakespeare, methinks they in the media do protest too much.

Frodowithoutborders said...

From the perspective of the Hobbit, it seems appropriate to note that at least three Surgeon Generals of the US of A in a row have been black. Is that merely a coincidence as it befits the "single-payer" dialogue with Rep. Conyers?
Frodo doesn't mean to "poo-poo" anything, but the Judge Judy reference was a joke, pure and simple.
Gupta is young, a Michigan grad, who lives in Atlanta, who is literate and fully comprehensible when he talks medical, and he believes in health-care reform. Frodo bets he can also shoot a basketball with the President-Elect.

Anonymous said...

Krugman's characterization of CNN's and Gupta's misstatements and innacuracies are right on. The statistics that Moore states in Sicko are each cited and listed on his Web site. These citations were even sent to CNN and Gupta before the interview, yet Gupta wrongly accuses Moore of "fudging the facts". Gupta then goes on to missquote one of the statistics used (and cited) by Moore. So whose facts are correct? CNN finally relented and came out with a retraction of the misstated numbers. It's basicly a matter of accusing someone of "fudging the facts" when your own "facts" are the ones in error. I encourage those of you whose kneejerk reation is to dismiss Moore's film editorials as being without basis, to watch Sicko, which has proven to be quite accurate in its statements and statistics.

airth10 said...

The Gupta nomination is nothing as dreadful as the nomination of Harriet Mires for the Supreme Court or Sarah Palin for vice-president. At least he has substance.

It is interesting how pop-culture has become part of politics, that you have a Michael Moore effecting policy decisions.

B.J. said...

Communication is transmitting, receiving and understanding. The POINT of this post is (and I have stated it in the two earlier posts which I cite): the far left is rumbling louder about Obama’s choices than the far right. Olbermann stated it clearly: Obama is freezing out the “crazy wingnuts” on both sides of the political spectrum – and good for him!

For the record, I have purchased all of Michael Moore’s documentaries from his Web site for $59.99 each and have found merit in all of them. In fact, it was worth $59.99 to see Paul Wolfowitz, in “farenheit 911,” spit on his comb before combing his hair.

I support Obama’s choice of Gupta. This is a pro-Obama post.

Again, the rumbles from the far left get louder every day as many who supported Obama are unhappy with some of his choices. (“Where’s the change?” “ “What’s with all the Clintonites?” “Why Rick Warren?”) Obama is smart: he knows if he is to unite Americans, he is going to have to be the president of all Americans.

Won’t that be a nice change!

BJ

Tiny said...

Tiny agrees with airth10 concerning Miers and Palin. She listens to Gupta now and then. Sometimes she agrees with him, sometimes she doesn't. But then she didn't go to medical school. She is in complete agreement with the preventive medicine concept. That's better than a lot of the dreadful and sometimes deadly remedies foisted on us by for-profit pharmaceuticals. Thus the old axiom: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Tiny has not seen any of Michael Moore's documentaries, but has heard tons of positive things about them that persuaded masses of people to consider the benefits of health care for everyone, which includes preventive care.

So Michael Moore isn't a professional politician or polished movie maker, but an ordinary citizen with convictions of right and wrong on certain social issues. When masses of ordinary citizens ban together and demand what is best for the welfare and well being of the masses of the people, recorded history verifies that ordinary citizens bring about positive changes in societies.

Masses of American people are ready for positive change. So Americans say to Obama: Bring it on! A world of difference in Obama's choices compared to what BushCo brought on Americans and the world at large.