Tuned In

Paging Surgeon General Gupta?

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Barack Obama to Name Dr. Sanjay Gupta Surgeon General: Onion headline or actual news? According to The Washington Post’s Howard Kurtz, it’s fact, and as long as the CNN doc can accustom himself to making White House money rather than cable-news money, he’s expected to accept. 

The jokes write themselves, and hey, I’m not above it: Jim Cramer for Treasury Secretary! To Catch a Predator’s Chris Hansen for FBI Director! The guy from Fox 5’s “Shame on You” Squad for Commerce! Al Franken for—oh, never mind. 

And yet, and yet. One could ask: why aren’t more TV personalities named to similar government positions? Certainly there are Cabinet posts that, one hopes, would require specific expertise and management experience. But some positions, in this day and age, are largely about communication and persuasion. C. Everett Koop didn’t discover that smoking was harmful, after all. But he used the job as a communiciations platform for public-health initiatives. 

Of course, I say this unburdened by  particular knowledge of what the Surgeon General, um, does. Are there any government positions in which knowing your way around a camera should be a top qualification? And yes, feel free to make your own easy jokes too. Who am I to judge?

Update: Colleague Jay Newton-Small beats me to the post (and the headline) at Swampland. (Also: Gupta has been a contributor for Time in the past; I’m not sure his present arrangement, if any, with the magazine, but in case anyone thinks this constitutes conflict, there’s your disclosure. I’ve never met nor had surgery performed by him.)