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CNN's Dr. Gupta May Be Next Surgeon General

ARI SHAPIRO, host:

This is Morning Edition from NPR News. I'm Ari Shapiro.

STEVE INSKEEP, host:

And I'm Steve Inskeep. President-elect Barack Obama is seeking a little star power for a position that's sometimes a little anonymous. As NPR's David Folkenflik reports, the administration in waiting is paging CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

DAVID FOLKENFLIK: Both CNN and a person with the Obama transition team confirmed that Gupta is under close consideration for the job of U.S. surgeon general. It's not a done deal yet, as Gupta is still being scrutinized. Currently, Gupta is a medical correspondent on CNN and a contributing reporter on CBS News. The 39-year-old neurosurgeon is also an assistant professor on the medical faculty of Emory University in Atlanta.

In recent decades, the surgeon general has basically been a cheerleader for good public health practices and above all, a communicator. But Gupta was a White House fellow during the second Clinton administration, and the Washington Post is reporting that Gupta has been offered a voice in developing public-health policy by Obama. His appointment would also depend on confirmation by the full U.S. Senate. Gupta is perhaps best known for reporting on the health-care implications of dangerous events such as Hurricane Katrina and the invasion of Iraq.

In one situation back in 2003, Gupta helped perform emergency brain surgery on a wounded boy in south central Iraq while traveling with a team of U.S. Navy doctors. CNN says it removed Gupta from covering health- care policy and other political matters involving Obama as soon as it learned he was under consideration for the federal job. Gupta did not respond to a request for comment. David Folkenflik, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

David Folkenflik was described by Geraldo Rivera of Fox News as "a really weak-kneed, backstabbing, sweaty-palmed reporter." Others have been kinder. The Columbia Journalism Review, for example, once gave him a "laurel" for reporting that immediately led the U.S. military to institute safety measures for journalists in Baghdad.
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