On Sanjay Gupta’s ‘Breathless’ Gullibility

Stating that “a lot of funny things can happen when the media translate science for the public,” science writer Chris Mooney (Nation, 3/6/09) looks over more evidence that the U.S. public got really lucky when CNN‘s Sanjay Gupta was not made Obama’s surgeon general. Mooney’s list of Gupta “approaching medical coverage through ‘one the one hand, on the other hand’ equivocation, the selling of medical entertainment, following the pack or simply getting it wrong” clearly illustrates “what always made Gupta’s nomination worrisome”:

Consider a few of Gupta’s journalistic missteps. In late December 2002–a slow news week after Christmas–an outfit named Clonaid, run by a member of a UFO-obsessed group called the Raelians, decided to hold a press conference announcing the first cloning of a human being. The media responded like a herd and ran off a cliff. Many outlets, including CNN, covered the group’s press conference live, even though numerous scientists and bioethicists could have told them the claim wasn’t credible. Yet there was Gupta, breathlessly interviewing Clonaid’s “clinical science director” about “the possibility, a big possibility, that a human clone was actually born.” Gupta and CNN contributed heavily to a media scare with little foundation; to this day, we’ve never seen proof of the existence of baby “Eve.”

And of course Mooney features Gupta’s infamous “‘reality check‘ on Michael Moore’s 2007 film SiCKO“; see the FAIR Action Alert: “CNN vs. SiCKO” (7/11/07).