Sanjay Gupta offered Surgeon General post

CNN medical correspondent has not officially accepted

NEW YORK -- CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta will likely be nominated the nation's new Surgeon General in the Obama administration.

Gupta has been offered but apparently not accepted the position, which would be prestigious as the nation's top health educator. But it would also be a substantial step down from the money he makes as a practicing neurosurgeon in Atlanta and as a journalist for CNN and CBS.

Gupta's possible nomination as surgeon general had been bubbling under the radar since Obama's early November election, and upon learning about it he told top executives from CBS and CNN. There were no conflict of interest rules, CNN said Tuesday.

"CNN has made sure that his on-air reporting has been on health and wellness matters and not on health-care policy or any matters involving the new administration," CNN said Tuesday.

CBS News president Sean McManus said he'd be sad to lose Gupta's work as a journalist but is extremely qualified for the job.

"I can't think of a better candidate, to be honest," McManus told The Hollywood Reporter on Tuesday. "He's a great public spokesman and he's as smart a guy as you will ever find."

CNN's reaction, on air, was even more enthusiastic.

"You go, Sanjay," anchor Rick Sanchez said in announcing the news on Tuesday afternoon.

The Atlanta-based Gupta has his feet in both the medical and journalistic worlds, with a practice as a neurosurgeon as well as a prominent role on CNN and host of "House Call With Dr. Sanjay Gupta" on the weekends on the channel. He also contributes to CBS' "60 Minutes" and the "CBS Evening News With Katie Couric" through a deal with CNN.

Gupta has been one of the bigger stars of late on CNN, covering the presidential campaign as well as huge stories like the war in Iraq and Hurricane Katrina, all from the medical perspective. His harrowing reports from New Orleans in the aftermath of the hurricane helped CNN win a Peabody Award in 2006. He also has won Emmys.

Before joining CNN in 2001, Gupta was a neurosurgery fellow at the University of Tennessee's Semmes-Murphy Clinic and the University of Michigan Medical Center.

Gupta has some experience in politics and policy. During the Clinton administration, he was a White House Fellow and special adviser to first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton.

If he accepts and is confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Gupta would be in charge of the U.S. Public Health Service and is the nation's chief health educator. The acting Surgeon General is U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Steven K. Galson.