Punditfromanotherplanet’s fictional interview with Dr. Vivek Hallegere Murthy has been a popular item, thanks to the many good-humored readers who visit our site. Though, there’s always the occasional unhappy customer.
In a spirited discussion at another blog, Richard Rowe maintains that Dr. Vivek Murthy never said he promoted a gun ban, never said he wants to ban guns. And anyone who says otherwise–including conservative bloggers, but primarily Fox News–is a liar.
So this post is about Dr. Murthy’s controversial gun-control agenda, a discussion about fact vs. fiction in public policy debates, and a discussion about guns in general.
The disgruntled message comes from the founder of a site called “Americans Against the Tea Party“. Blogger and self-proclaimed official professional journalist (his bio says he’s written over 3 million words!) Rowe responded to my comment on his blog. I left a nutty comment on a nutty left-wing site, what did I expect? Flowers and candy? …where I eagerly expressed my (tongue-in-cheek) support for Dr. Vivek Murthy‘s candidacy for Surgeon General. Needless to say, my comments were unwelcome. Rowe followed the link back to this site, where he read the fictional interview with Dr. Murthy, and was totally not amused. It really, really displeased him. Though Mr. Rowe doesn’t share our political point of view, or appreciate our humor, he engaged in a friendly discussion, graciously taking the time to write a thoughtful, good-humored comment, in response to mine.
Nah, just kidding. His message is a typical left-wing cuckoo-bananas temper tantrum. A threatening, insulting, vindictive, chunk-blowing rant. But I liked his message anyway, and welcome the opportunity to set the record straight. I enjoyed his commentary, and would like to share some of his comments with our readers.
Richard Rowe – March 11, 2014 at 5:27 am @ The Butcher: Oh, that is so CUTE! The anonymous blogger with a WordPress site who won’t even sign his work with his real name made a funny! I just read your “exclusive interview” with Murthy…just out of curiosity, do you have any evidence at all that you actually conducted this interview? Or did it come out of the same hole that the rest of your posts obviously do? Because I followed all the links you posted in your “interview,” and all I see is a paraphrasing of an editorial by Manny Alvarez on Fox “News.” I understand, though…it can be hard to get interviews when you won’t tell the person you’re interviewing your real name. But, if you DID get that interview…did Murthy by any chance, at any point say he wants to ban guns? Because I can’t find a single instance of him referring to a gun ban, except on right-wing websites (like yours) that never directly quote him saying so. Shame THEY couldn’t get that “exclusive interview,” huh?
Leaving aside the interview comments — obviously satire — let me address the question: “by any chance, at any point, did [Dr. Murthy] say he wants to ban guns?”
This doesn’t come from my interview (fictional) it doesn’t come from any interview, and it’s not in the form of a quote, captured by a reporter, then published in print or online. It comes directly from Dr. Murthy’s organization, Doctors for America.
Specifically, it was a call to ban “assault weapons” and “military style” weapons, as well as an “aggressive buy-back” program to collect these types of guns. Along with other gun-control measures. The critics are correct, Dr. Murthy wants the guns. To his admirers, his gun-control activism is one of his public-service achievements. To his opponents, it makes him a target for criticism.
However, no, there’s no evidence I’m aware of that Dr. Vivek Murthy wants to ban guns, if that means “ban all guns“. (though to be fair, no one claims it was suggested by anyone in the first place) Dr. Murthy’s record, along with his colleagues, of advocating a federal gun ban is well-documented.
This is mainly a disagreement between Rowe, somebody at Fox News, and maybe some other conservative bloggers, not really with me.
But I thought it was odd that Rowe jumps to the conclusion that Murthy’s critics in the media are all “liars”. Why not just check the facts? Instead of making false accusations in bold, inaccurate headlines? Or picking fights with annoying humorists? The people that Rowe takes issue with aren’t likely to simply invent a story that Dr. Murthy wants to ban guns, if he didn’t want to ban guns. It’s too easy to prove, or disprove. If a guy like me found conclusive evidence in about 30 seconds, we can imagine other bloggers, reporters, and media people did, too. The information is readily available.
Imagine what could be found if someone spent several days on it? We can be sure some bright-eyed researchers at the NRA have accumulated more than 30-seconds worth. I’m fairly certain what I found represents but a minor part of Dr. Murthy’s gun-control resume.
To summarize: Dr.Vivek Murthy signed an Op-Ed, advocating, among other gun-control measures, a federal gun ban. In fact, the organization that Dr. Vivek Murthy founded sent a letter to Congress advocating a federal gun ban, among other gun-control measures, and a letter to Vice President Biden, advocating a federal gun ban. The gun-banning advocacy, targeting “assault weapons”, has Dr. Murthy’s seal of approval, on the site of the organization he founded, Doctors for America. So the short answer is yes, Dr. Murthy is on the record advocating a gun ban.
Here’s the relevant text:
“We want doctors to be able to ask, document and counsel patients on gun safety in their homes. This alone is not enough. We want to see a ban on assault weapons and an aggressive buy-back program for military-style weapons that are currently in circulation.”
There’s that one word, that’s a dead giveaway: Ban. Rowe couldn’t find any instance, except on “right-wing” websites like mine? Rowe should have checked Dr. Murtha’s website. This might explain why journalists, bloggers, and opinionated network news commentators are saying Dr. Murthy is in favor of banning guns. Because, well, he is in favor of banning guns. He certainly was at the time he and his colleagues sent letters to Washington D.C., laying out their proposal, calling for action.
Now that we’ve cleared that up, here’s my suggestion for a revised headline:
Fox News Reports the Facts AGAIN! Says Obama Surgeon General Appointee Wants to Ban Guns
If journalistic integrity is important to Rowe, he might consider a revision. Not my headline suggestion, of course. But something that isn’t obviously false. Unless his readers know that it wasn’t meant to be factual, but a customary example of hyperbole, or inside-joke, anti-Fox overstatement. In which case, I approve!
It’s not just Gun Violence that Concerns the Nominee. Dr. Vivek Murthy Also Wants to Classify Scissors, Swimming Pools, Automobiles, and Shoes as a “Preventable Disease”.
- Dr. Murthy is co-founder and president of Doctors for America, an organization that says its mission is to ensure that everyone has access to affordable, high quality health care.
“People don’t realize how deadly hands and feet are. So many preventable deaths result from violence caused by hands and feet. Especially feet wearing boots, or shoes.”
— Dr. Vivek Murthy
Note: preventable errors in hospitals are the third-leading cause of death in America, behind heart disease, which is the first, and cancer, which is second. If hospital mistakes kill more people than guns, does Dr. Vivek Murthy advocate classifying hospital care as a “health care crisis?” or as a disease? What about scissors, shoes, swimming pools, and cars? Apparently he does.
At a recent conference in Washington D.C., The Butcher, punditfromanotherplanet‘s Editor-in-Chief , had an opportunity to interview Dr. Vivek Murthy. Here are the highlights of our exclusive interview:
The Butcher: Do you think your medical background and qualifications are what led the White House to tap you as nominee for Surgeon General? Or your close political ties with the White House, and record of advocacy of Barack Obama?
Dr. Murthy: (laughing) It’s definitely the latter.
The Butcher: Have you ever been the head of a major hospital?
Dr. Murthy: No, I haven’t.
The Butcher: Have you ever been the head of a department at a major hospital?
Dr. Murthy: Actually, no.
The Butcher: A small hospital? Or..okay, let’s move on to the next question. Have you had any influence on president Obama’s tobacco habit? Encouraged him to quit?
Dr. Murthy: He assures me that he no longer smokes. I believe he tells Mrs. Obama that, too.
The Butcher: Your nomination has stirred controversy among first amendment experts, and gun-rights advocates. Is it true that you advocate treating firearms as a disease?
Dr. Murthy: Yes, a preventable disease. I’m not the first to suggest this, though it’s only one of many things that pose a grave danger, and probably should be viewed as a disease. Automobiles, for example.
The Butcher: Automobiles?
Dr. Murthy: Yes! Did you know that in 2011, 89 people were killed on the roadways of America, each day? Thousands of people each year die needlessly, because of cars. If I become Surgeon General, I will become a leading advocate for classifying automobiles a disease.
The Butcher: I’ve heard that you also view swimming pools as dangerous.
Dr. Murthy: Don’t get me started on swimming pools.