In case you’re wondering, naming the culprit is not incidental to the MSNBC coverage in question. The title of the news segment articulates it explicitly: “How the NRA is making the Ebola crisis worse.”
Our old friend Krystall Ball and NBC correspondent Anne Thompson have colluded to point the finger at the NRA, because…wait for it…the U.S. is currently without a surgeon general. And it’s all the NRA’s fault. NewsBusters summarizes their sanctimonious little rant:
[A] “poll by Harvard found that 39% of U.S. adults are concerned about a large outbreak here, and more than a quarter fear someone in their immediate family could get sick with Ebola.” They continued with a lament: “If only there was someone around who could educate the American public about the actual level of risk. Someone who was trusted as a public health expert and whose job it was to help us understand what we really need to worry about and what precautions we should take.”
Ball…and Thompson underlined that these roles are among the “primary responsibilities of the United States surgeon general,” and that “there’s just one problem: Thanks to Senate dysfunction and NRA opposition, we don’t have a surgeon general right now. In fact, we haven’t had a surgeon general for more than a year now — even though the president nominated the eminently qualified Dr. Vivek Murthy back in November 2013.”
Alert readers may even remember the dust-up when Dr. Murthy was first nominated last year. LU’s own Howard Portnoy unearthed the controversial activities in Murthy’s background, which include being president and co-founder of the anti-gun group Doctors for America:
His group, which has been dubbed “Docs vs. Glocks,” has pushed Congress to ban “assault” weapons and “high-capacity” magazines.
He also wants to spend more tax dollars on more research to prove that fewer guns mean a lower crime rate, despite the fact that a number of reputable studies prove the opposite.
Murthy is a moral crusader who seems more likely to focus on restricting gun ownership than on restricting the spread of Ebola:
In a preliminary hearing before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, Sen. Lamar Alexander asked Murthy about his social media comments on firearms, such as a tweet before the 2012 presidential election that included the odd claim that “guns are a health care issue.”
Murthy’s Twitter timeline is full of his anti-firearms screeds. A tweet from December 2012 reads, “NRA press conference disappointing but predictable — blame everything in the world except guns for the Newtown tragedy. #wakeup.”
Now, it’s not clear exactly what Ball and Thompson think a surgeon general could have done about the appearance of Ebola at this point. Keep the one confirmed Ebola patient we know of from entering the United States in September, even though no one in an official capacity in either Liberia or the U.S. knew he had Ebola when he boarded his flight? Crack down on the ER screeners in one particular Dallas hospital, where the staff had already received briefings and training on Ebola preparedness?
Even a surgeon general with no animus against guns is unlikely to have made a difference to the situation we actually find ourselves in. (If Obama needs an official surgeon general to persuade him to impose a travel ban on the Ebola hot zones — if that’s all it would take to turn a bad decision good — well, that’s a form of stupid there’s no fixing or predicting.)
But then, I’m looking for rational thought in the wrong place here. MSNBC, guns, anti-gun doctors, the NRA, the Obama administration — what was I thinking? Of course the whole mix is toxic to intellectual hygiene.