Fever Pitch: Fox Continues Smear Campaign Against Surgeon General Nominee

warren murthy

Fox News continued its campaign to smear President Obama's surgeon general nominee Dr. Vivek Murthy, presenting his mainstream views on gun policy as “problematic” and whitewashing his record to claim he doesn't have much “going for him.” 

The March 19 edition of Fox News' America's News HQ featured a discussion on Murthy between co-host Bill Hemmer and The Weekly Standard's Michael Warren that prominently presented the National Rifle Association's opposition to the nomination. According to Warren, “Not only do [his] political pronouncements on gun control make [Murthy] problematic but as a nominee, there's not much else going for him. He's more a political nominee than nominated for any political expertise.”

Murthy's “problematic” stance on gun safety, which has raised the ire of the NRA and the right-wing media, is merely advocacy for common sense efforts to curb gun violence. Murthy has encouraged physicians to ask young patients whether there is a gun in their home, a “common sense” and “responsible standard of practice,” according to the National Physicians Alliance. His health reform advocacy group submitted a letter of gun policy recommendations to Congress in the wake of the Sandy Hook elementary school massacre, and like many public health safety organizations (including the American Public Health Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Family Physicians, and the National Physicians Alliance), Murthy is concerned with the toll of gun violence on public health, which amounts to 30,000 gun deaths and 80,000 nonfatal gun injuries each year in the U.S.

As for Murthy's credentials, The New York Times editorial board agreed that the surgeon nominee holds "impeccable credentials for the job," and his nomination is supported by many medical and public health leaders and leading professional societies. Dr. Georges C. Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association, urged senators to confirm Murthy as surgeon general, writing that Murthy is “clearly qualified to succeed in all three roles” of the position:

The position carries three important duties: to lead the 6,500 men and women of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps; to chair the National Prevention Council; and to effectively communicate the best science around prevention and health to help improve the health of the American people.

Dr. Murthy is clearly qualified to succeed in all three roles.

We know that Dr. Murthy values prevention. As a member of the Advisory Group on Prevention, Health Promotion, and Integrative and Public Health, he is already working to give sound advice that brings together every facet of government -- from education and defense to housing and transportation -- to ensure health is considered across the full spectrum of national programs and policies.

He has demonstrated that he is a mature leader of men and women. As co-founder and president of Doctors for America, he brought together 16,000 physicians and medical students to advocate for quality, affordable health care for all. He has also been a leader in HIV prevention and education as president of Visions Worldwide. And finally, we know that Dr. Murthy has the bright mind to take the latest science and turn it into better health outcomes. He is well trained and as an instructor at Harvard Medical School and a physician at Brigham and Women's Hospital, he's successfully practiced at some of our nation's most prestigious health care institutions.

Right-wing media's attempt to block Murthy's nomination reflects its ongoing effort to cast commonsense medical opinion as “anti-gun,” while obscuring the clear intersection of gun policy and public health.