FRIDAY, OCTOBER 9, 2020
Sanjay Gupta doesn't seem sure: We thought of Dr. Rieux last night—Dr. Bernard Rieux, the calm, sane narrator and central intelligence in Camus' famous novel, The Plague.
We thought of Rieux as we watched CNN—as we listened to Sanjay Gupta's latest review of Sean Conley, the commander in chief's latest puzzling doctor.
Is Dr. Conley on the level? Dr. Gupta doesn't seem real sure. His exchange with Anderson Cooper started out like this:
COOPER (10/8/20): Sanjay, when the president said today, he said, quote, "I don't think I'm contagious at all," and that he feels perfect—that's not how this virus works.
And we have no idea what's going on with him. We don't know how long he's had it. We don't know how much he spread it.
But you know, they're trying to—they are covering that up successfully. Is there any way to really know how he—way to know how he is doing?
GUPTA: No, I mean, you know, we're sort of at the mercy of the doctors who say that they want to brief people and disclose how the president is doing, but then they speak in these very vague sort of ways.
I mean, there is a convention that the medical professions communicates messages back and forth, and these letters, and these statements, and even the briefings have all been, you know—we've had to sort of translate these things. So we don't know.
We do know that he wouldn't be out of his contagious period yet, by, you know, lots of data and looking at the CDC guidelines. But I want you to listen to how Dr. Conley just was talking about this, just on Monday, just three days ago.
Gupta played tape of Conley's public statement on Monday. "We're looking to this weekend," Conley said at that time. "If we can get through to Monday, with him remaining the same, or improving, better yet, then we will all take that final deep sigh of relief."
This past Monday, Conley said we'd have to wait until next Monday. Now, the timeline seemed to have been moved up, with the commander in chief being turned loose on the world.
Have Conley's recent statements made sense? Gupta seemed less than sure:
GUPTA: So that was on Monday, Anderson...And here we are, on Thursday, basically saying that, you know, things are basically back to normal.
You know, they released this letter today, and I don't know if we have a shot of this letter. But you know, again, there is a convention with the way medical professionals sort of communicate.
One thing about this letter, right away, you'll notice is that there's not even the temperature on here. It's hard to read, obviously. But I can tell you, there's no temperature on here for somebody who has an infection. And that's key, because that's the—not having a temperature is one of the criteria for starting to come out of isolation.
They don't even mention the temperature here. Instead they say that he has a trajectory of—he has "advanced diagnostics in the right trajectory." I don't even know what that means.
I mean, what tests are those tests—so it's purposely vague and it's disappointing, because again, if you want to present information, then do it. Otherwise, you're presenting this stuff that's sort of gibberish and hard to translate.
Gupta went on and on in that vein. True to his role as a non-partisan medical specialist, he didn't take himself out on a limb. But to our ear, he very much seemed to be asking if Conley is actually on the level at this point in time.
GUPTA: There are there are clear ways to communicate what's going on with the president. We still don't know if he has pneumonia. We don't know when his last negative test is. We don't know what the deal is with these medications, or how they are basically monitoring those. If he is still on the steroids that could be masking all these symptoms.
I know we've talked about this before, and I probably sound like a broken record, but they are purposely being vague. I know this, we read lots of these types of letters from doctors. This is not normal, what's happening here, and by the way, it sort of fits the pattern of other doctor's letters that we've had regarding President Trump.
We just—we can't really make sense of it. It's like putting the pieces of a puzzle together.
"This is not normal, what's happening here," Gupta said. When he said the current medical communication "fits the pattern of other doctor's letters that we've had regarding President Trump," he was referring to this crackpot president's earlier crackpot doctors—Dr. Harold Bornstein and Dr. Ronny Jackson.
Like Dr. Rieux in The Plague, Gupta is a careful person who avoids leaping to conclusions. This makes him a welcome presence on cable, where leaping to sketchy conclusions is the national Olympic sport.
Last evening, Lawrence O'Donnell was an undisguised disgrace, a rancid race-based demagogue. Over on CNN, Gupta seemed to be leaning, if reluctantly, in a certain direction.
He's been calm and sane throughout. We wish there was some sort of trophy he could carry off.