I like his news reports on CNN and CBS. I like his rapport on talk shows.
But this WaPo headline gets it wrong when it calls him a "journalist", as do right-wing blogs who focus exclusively on his journalism creds and obvious TV eye appeal. Sure, he does journalism, but that's a second vocation. He was trained as, and became a worldwide expert in, medicine (neurosurgery) long before the journalism gig. In fact, he has been, and still is, a practicing neurosurgeon at Emory University in Atlanta. He was there before the CNN job a year ago.
And certainly his allegience is to medicine. While being a war correspondent in Iraq, he was asked to perform emergency surgery on a 2-year-old Iraqi boy who had been critically wounded when hit in the head with shrapnel (the boy did not survive). This was a violation of journalistic ethics (becoming a part of the story), but for Gupta, it was no-brainer. As a licensed practising surgeon who took the Oath, he was compelled morally to treat the boy.
Furthermore, the job of Surgeon General is educational as well as medical. After all, it is the Surgeon General who is charged with getting the word out about health hazards (ever read a cigarette pack lately)? So who better than an established medical doctor with strong PR skills, and a small modicum of fame? And, the looks don't hurt.
So seriously, who better?