In a scene from CNN's "Planet in Peril," Dr. Sanjay Gupta stands in a body of water in Africa
By Howard Kurtz
President-elect Barack Obama has offered the job of surgeon general to Dr. Sanjay Gupta, the neurosurgeon and correspondent for CNN and CBS, according to two sources with knowledge of the situation.
Gupta has told administration officials that he wants the job, and the final vetting process is under way. He has asked for a few days to figure out the financial and logistical details of moving his family from Atlanta to Washington but is expected to accept the offer.
When reached for comment today, Gupta did not deny the account but declined to comment.
The offer followed a two-hour Chicago meeting in November with Obama, who said that Gupta could be the highest-profile surgeon general in history and would have an expanded role in providing health policy advice, the sources said. Gupta later spoke with Tom Daschle, Obama's White House health czar and nominee for Health and Human Services secretary, and other advisers to the president-elect.
The Michigan-born son of Indian and Pakistani parents, Gupta has always been drawn to health policy. He was a White House fellow in the late 1990s, writing speeches and crafting policy for Hillary Clinton. His appointment would give the administration a prominent official of Southwest Asian descent and a skilled television spokesman.
Gupta, who hosts "House Call" on CNN, has discussed the job offer with his bosses at CBS and CNN to make sure he could be released from his contractual obligations, the sources said.
His role as journalist and physician have sometimes overlapped. During the 2003 Iraq invasion, Gupta was embedded with a Navy unit called Devil Docs and, while covering its mission, performed brain surgery five times, the first of which was on a 2-year-old Iraqi boy.
Gupta's only hesitation in taking the post is said to involve the financial impact on his pregnant wife and two children if he gives up his lucrative medical and journalistic careers. But he is expected to accept the position within days.