Fox News hosts stoked fears that the United States' ability to respond to Ebola may be weakened by the absence of a Surgeon General, a concern that whitewashes the network's history of smearing the pending Surgeon General nominee Dr. Vivek Murthy.
Following CDC director Tom Frieden's October 13 statement that a Dallas nurse's contraction of Ebola requires hospitals to “rethink” infection control and “double down” on precautions, Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy suggested that the administration's response to Ebola is suffering from a lack of leadership without a designated Surgeon General, arguing:
DOOCY: You would normally think that in something like this, the Surgeon General would be in charge, but right now at this point oddly, the United States of America does not have a Surgeon General. His nomination is tied up in politics.
Doocy's concern stands in contrast to Fox News' efforts to stall and politicize the Surgeon General nomination process earlier this year.
Fox personalities repeatedly worked to cast doubt on Dr. Vivek Murthy's nomination, questioning his strong qualifications and smearing him as “too political” for the job. In March, network host Brian Kilmeade alleged that Murthy “hasn't done much in his career yet,” and argued that “you want to be impressed with” a Surgeon General nominee's resume.
In fact, Murthy has a wide range of experience and had been endorsed by numerous public health experts and organizations. The American Public Health Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Cancer Society, American Diabetes Association, American Heart Association, and Trust for America's Health (TFAH) have all supported Murthy's nomination. American Public Health Association executive director Dr. Georges Benjamin has argued that Murthy is “clearly qualified to succeed” as Surgeon General.
In addition to questioning Murthy's qualifications, Fox has also worked to baselessly politicize Murthy's position that gun violence should be considered a public health issue. Fox & Friends co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck falsely claimed that Murthy views gun ownership as a “disease” and forwarded claims that he has “a radical agenda when it comes to guns and your health.” Network legal analyst Peter Johnson Jr. suggested Murthy would make the examining room about “about party registration or about gun registration,” and Fox host Megyn Kelly claimed that Murthy is “not a big fan of the Second Amendment,” and said he is “so anti-gun that the NRA has decided to score this vote.”
But Murthy's position is not controversial. The American Medical Association (AMA) has decried “the epidemic of gun violence in our nation, much of which is preventable” and supported restrictions on assault weapons. The Institute of Medicine has argued that “a public health approach” like those used to reduce smoking and car accidents should be used to fight gun violence. Doctors for America senior advisor Harold Pollack also noted that “Murthy has mainly expressed standard gun policy positions held by trauma surgeons, emergency department staff, spinal cord injury specialists and others who treat victims of gun violence” and pointed to similar positions from the American Psychiatric Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and American College of Emergency Physicians.