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Anti-NRA Ebola Theme Infects Media, Spreads Rapidly

Friday, October 24, 2014

In the weeks since we last reported on media attempts to tie NRA to the Ebola crisis because of our opposition to the nomination of Dr. Vivek Murthy as surgeon general, the anti-gun echo chamber has continued to promote this absurd line of argument. Absent most of the coverage is a forthright discussion of NRA’s legitimate concerns with the nominee, or any evidence that Murthy himself has a singular ability to effectively handle the nation’s Ebola response.

NRA opposes Dr. Murthy’s nomination for the very reason that he has a history of exploiting his status as a medical practitioner to advance a purely political agenda of extreme and unproven gun control measures. In January 2013, Dr. Murthy signed two letters sent from his organization Doctors for America (formerly Doctors for Obama) to Vice President Joe Biden and Congress, advocating for stringent gun controls. The letter to Congress advocated for a ban on popular semi-autos and their ammunition, limits on ammunition purchases, firearm owner licensing, and a mandatory waiting period of at least 48 hours. The letter also expressed a desire to leverage the resources of the Centers for Disease Control to provide data for gun control efforts. Such proposals are of obvious import to gun owners. Moreover, as surgeon general, Dr. Murthy would have the ideal platform to direct the nation’s public health apparatus towards redefining firearms ownership as a disease, a tactic that Congress has curbed with funding limits since the 1990s, but one President Obama hopes to reinvigorate.

Oddly, many of those lamenting Dr. Murthy’s stalled nomination in the media take for granted, without evidence, his unequaled capacity to competently manage the Ebola outbreak, or convey vital information to the American public. Worse, the baseless media presumptions are echoed by some two dozen members of the U.S. House of Representatives, who are using the Ebola outbreak as a pretext to urge the Senate to confirm Dr. Murthy’s nomination. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) has organized a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) insisting that the pair take action to “confirm [Dr. Murthy] as soon as possible.”

Should Murthy have critical information to convey on the illness, one would suspect that various news outlets would be eager to spotlight the high-profile nominee’s thoughts on the matter. Yet the strongest evidence that Dr. Murthy would have little to contribute on the topic has come directly from the White House. Obama had the opportunity to engage Dr. Murthy in the Ebola response by appointing him, without the need for Senate approval, as Ebola Response Coordinator (the so-called “Ebola Czar”). There is no indication that Obama ever considered Dr. Murthy for the position. Instead, the president chose Ronald Klain, and attorney and former chief of staff to the vice president with no medical training.

A cynic (or maybe just a realist) might even conclude that 37-year-old Dr. Murthy’s primary qualification for receiving the nomination as surgeon general in the first place was his political activism on behalf of Obama. This included Murthy’s activism for Obama in the 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns and during heated legislative battles such as those over health care reform and gun control. Murthy’s credentials as a leading authority on Ebola, if indeed he has any, are considerably less well documented.

Yet even before Murthy gained fame as Obama’s unlikely pick for America’s top doctor -- chosen at an age when most physicians are still struggling to establish their practices and pay off medical school loans -- he was offering his unsolicited “expertise” on gun control in correspondence to America’s leaders.  Should he likewise care to offer his musings on combating Ebola, he presumably remembers the addresses of the White House and Capitol and will chime in accordingly.

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Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.