NBC’s Nancy Snyderman needs to lose her medical license immediately


    Earlier this month, a West Africa-based cameraman by the name of Ashoka Mukpo contracted Ebola while shooting for NBC News in Liberia. Mukpo had been hired to accompany the network’s chief medical editor, Nancy Snyderman, as she reported on the deadly virus, which, according to CDC reporting, has already claimed at least 4,033 lives. (According to the CDC, there had been 4656 “laboratory-confirmed cases” as of October 10, resulting in 4,033 deaths. The CDC also estimates that new Ebola cases could soar to 10,000 a week in the near future.)

    When it became known that Mukpo had been infected, he was sent to Nebraska for treatment, and the rest of the NBC crew, who had been working in close proximity to him, agreed to enter voluntary isolation for a period of a few week’s time. (Those infected with Ebola typically begin to show symptoms within 21 days.) In spite of this quarantine agreement, however, it was reported yesterday that Snyderman was seen in a car near her Princeton, New Jersey home, waiting for her companion to bring food to her from a local restaurant. Snyderman, to her credit, did not dispute the charge, and has since been ordered into mandatory quarantine. Last night, NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams read a statement from Snyderman, saying that she was sorry for what she’d done. Here’s a clip:

    “While under voluntary quarantine guidelines, which called for our team to avoid public contact for 21 days, members of our group violated those guidelines and understand that our quarantine is now mandatory until 21 days have passed… We remain healthy and our temperatures are normal. As a health professional I know that we have no symptoms and pose no risk to the public, but I am deeply sorry for the concerns this episode caused.”

    With all due respect to Nancy Snyderman, I hope that she loses her medical license immediately, as well as the ability to ever again walk onto the set of a network news soundstage as a respected representative of the medical community. The thought that she could so cavalierly go out for a sandwich after having given her word to stay isolated, and just days after we’d seen our first death from Ebola in this country, absolutely sickens me, and you can be sure that I will write to any future employers that she may have, reminding them not only of her serious lapse of judgement, but of the way she attempted to shift the blame after the fact, refusing to take any responsibility for her actions, saying instead that “members of (her) group” violated “guidelines.” And, just to be clear, it wasn’t “members of her group” that violated protocol. It was her. And these weren’t “guidelines” that Snyderman violated as she went out shopping with her male companion. Public health officials didn’t suggest to her that she stay away from people. They made her promise to stay isolated for 21 days from the point of contact, to ensure that the virulent disease, if she did have it, wouldn’t get a foothold in the United States.

    Speaking of the 21-day incubation period, how dare she say, “As a health professional I know that we have no symptoms and pose no risk to the public,” knowing full well that even those infected don’t present with symptoms for several weeks. She should be fired for this statement alone.

    Yes, I know that she likely isn’t infected, but that’s not the point. The point is that she thought that she knew better than public health professionals because she’s a wealthy, successful surgeon turned celebrity. She thought that the rules didn’t apply to her. And she knowingly put lives at risk as a result… And I find that sickening, especially when so many truly heroic doctors are giving their lives in Africa right now to stop the spread of this deadly virus. (It’s being reported today that 16 members of Doctors Without Border have been infected with Ebola, 9 of whom have already died.)

    Two things you can do today… Donate to Doctors Without Borders and write to the American Medical Association, asking them to open an inquiry into Snyderman’s flagrant disregard for public health.

    [edit: For what it's worth, yes, I know that people aren't contagious until such point that they become symptomatic. Public health protocol, however, is in place so that people who may have the virus don't become symptomatic while in public. So, just to be clear, I did not think that Snyderman was "infecting" people in Princeton by being out of her home. As I point out in the post, I realize it's unlikely that she has the virus. And, even if she did, it's highly unlikely that she'd become symptomatic while running errands this past weekend. My point, however, is that she should know better. The protocol may be inconvenient, but it's necessary.]

    Posted in Health, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 38 Comments

    The Illuminated Underground Micro-Gallery (video)

    It’s somewhat disjointed, but I shot a few snippets of video on Friday as I was putting the Illuminated Underground Micro-Gallery into the ground at the Water Street Sculpture Park, and I wanted to share it with those of you who weren’t able to make it out and see it in person this past weekend.

    As for what’s inside the box, I wasn’t going to share it online, thinking that maybe people would be more inclined to go and look for themselves if they didn’t know what awaited them, but, now that a few days have passed, and some readers from out-of-state have inquired, I thought that I’d go ahead and share a few photos.


    As I explained it the other day to someone who came out to see it, “It’s a locally sourced robin’s nest, lined with artisanally grizzled beard hair, and filled to the brim with enough heirloom apple seeds to either take the life of a full grown man or start a small community.”


    It’s hard to tell from these photos, but it kind of hovers a foot or so from the floor of the gallery, in the middle of the box.

    As a rule, I don’t like artist statements. I don’t recall ever having read one that made me appreciate a piece of art any more than I did already. Conversely, though, I’ve found myself liking pieces quite a bit less after having read what artists had to say about their work. So, I’ll spare you the “message” behind my piece. What I will say, however, is that apple seeds have been interesting to me for a long time, as they hold within them such immense promise, while, at the same time, being so deadly. I’ve always appreciated that duality. On one hand you have these beautiful, compact seeds that contain the world within them, the blueprint for life. They’re explosive. They’re magical. They hold the promise of sustenance, both food and drink. And, on the other, they’re these tiny hydrogen cyanide pills. Granted, I exaggerated a bit when I said earlier that my work contained enough to kill a person. As I understand it, it would take about half a cup of dried, ground seeds to do the job, and my piece doesn’t contain nearly that many, but I wasn’t trying to be literal. I just liked the idea of a little, glowing “break glass in case of emergency” capsule in the middle of nowhere that would present you with a choice… either consume the contents and die, escaping all of the bad that is around us, or plant them and set about the difficult work of building a sustainable community. That’s as far as I’m going to go with the explanation. I’m sure, however, if you spend a few minutes thinking about the state of the world in general, and the state of Ypsilanti specifically, you’ll begin to see where I’m coming from.

    Also, I should add that I’m already in the process of planning another, which I think will be even better… So keep looking down.

    [If you'd like to see how the piece came together, you'll find photos documenting the construction here... And, again, I'd like to thank Dale Grover, Rob Todd, and the folks at Maker Works, without whom this never would have happened. They're awesome folks.]

    Posted in Art and Culture, Uncategorized, Ypsilanti | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

      Given Snyder’s track record in office, it wasn’t a difficult task, but Schauer destroyed him on Sunday night

      According to a recent New York Times poll of 2,560 likely voters in Michigan, Democratic candidate Mark Schauer is leading Rick Snyder in the race for Governor by two points, and, judging from yesterday’s town hall event, in which both men addressed an audience of uncommitted voters, it’s not difficult to imagine that this margin could widen.

      Here, if you haven’t seen it, is video the of the event, during which everything from the rampant proliferation of for-profit charter schools across Michigan to the recent scandals concerning the privatization of our prison food industry were touched on. If you just have a few minutes, though, I’d suggest jumping in at the 44-minute mark, where Schauer calls Snyder out for his position against marriage equality. I think it really gets to the heart of who these two men are.

      [If you find yourself wanting more, check out my interview with Mark Schauer over beers in the basement of Arbor Brewing.]

      Posted in Michigan, Politics | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

      The Ypsilanti Underground Micro Gallery is now open for business

      It took almost the entire day, but the new gallery is now open.


      Posted in Art and Culture, Ypsilanti | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

      The Quote of the Day…. by Ben Connor Barrie

      I’m not exactly sure what it was in reference to, but I turned a corner this evening and heard Ben Connor Barrie, the editor of Damn Arbor, make the following statement…


      I know I should have stuck around and found out what in the hell he was talking about. Instead, though, I ran home and took a scalding hot shower.

      Posted in Other, Uncategorized, Ypsilanti | Tagged , | 10 Comments


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