Pennsylvania Deserves Better Than Dr Oz

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I just can’t drive away the fear that one day, in the not-so-distant future, we will be living under a GOOP administration. It seems oddly possible, now this doctor, once “Jeopardy!” host and world’s biggest fan of unproven medical “miracles”, Dr. Mehmet Oz is running for the United States Senate in Pennsylvania.

Oz, who is posing as a Republican, threw his hat in the ring this month following the withdrawal of Trump-backed candidate Sean Parnell following allegations of domestic violence. In his ad, Oz hit his trademark bossy tone, writing in the Washington Examiner:

During the pandemic, I learned that when you mix politics and medicine, you get politics instead of solutions. That’s why I’m running for the US Senate: to help solve problems and help us heal. COVID-19 has become an excuse for the government and the elite thinkers who controlled the media to put the debate on hold. The dissenting opinions of prominent academics were ridiculed and quashed so their ideas could not be broadcast…. Elites with classes told those who didn’t to stay inside, and arrogant, closed-minded officials closed our parks, closed our schools, closed our businesses, and took our freedom.


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In his accompanying video statement, he echoed that sentiment, saying, “Washington was wrong. They took our freedom without making us any more secure.” And in a gesture that can only be interpreted as a shameless thirst for approval, he also noted the “moments of brilliance of the pandemic, such as the gift to the world of mRNA vaccines made possible by Operation Warp Speed. Of President Donald Trump “.

If that sounds odd to a doctor who thinks mixing medicine and politics together is a bad idea would suggest that running for office is the answer, this is exactly the kind of contradiction that made Mehmet Oz a star. From his first fame as one of Oprah’s “experts” to his long stint on his eponymous daytime show, he turned folk charisma into questionable credibility. Oz, after all, has the Ivy League creed the wazoo – trained at Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania, residency and career at Columbia – but positions himself as an advocate for “elite thinkers” (with yards!). He never lets you forget he’s a man of medicine, the director of Columbia Surgery’s Integrative Medicine Center, while gently suggesting that you, the average person, are the real expert here. In other words, he’s a perfect representation of the overconfidence that characterizes our age of disinformation.

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It’s also a classic American chess-up success story. Maybe a long time ago he was just another very smart doctor practicing in a very good hospital. He was even my stepfather’s cardiac surgeon back when he was even more famous for his cardiac work than as one of the sexiest men in People magazine. But over the years – at least in many legitimate medical circles – Oz’s fame has started to overshadow his credibility. Yet with every controversy, with every challenge to his incredibly dubious claims, he seems to become more influential.

In 2012, Oz opened his show to a “debate” on conversion therapy, asking, “Is there a gay cure?” and host an “expert” from the National Association for the Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (now known as the Alliance for Therapeutic Choice and Scientific Integrity). In the past, he has also given a tribune to the extraordinary charlatan Joseph Mercola, disagreeing with some of his ideas but praising his penchant for “defying convention and thinking outside the box.” He has said in the past that he is “rethinking tanning beds” after considering “UVB radiation worth not only for vitamin D but also for other sources”. Interestingly, the show’s “gay cure” and Mercola’s content appear to have been quietly removed from its site, as has the notorious episode on the “miracle” green coffee bean diet. (The “miracle” was based on a study the authors were later to withdraw. Lindsey Duncan, guest of “Dr. Oz,” later agreed to pay consumers $ 9 million for false weight loss claims. )

His hyperbolic affinity for miracle cures and “the key to feeling decades younger” has led him, on several occasions, to serious ethical problems. In 2011, he was arrested by the Food and Drug Administration after claiming that five popular brands of apple juice contained arsenic. In 2014, he appeared before Claire McCaskill, chair of the Senate Trade Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, who told him, “People want to believe that they can take a little pill to kick the fat out of their bodies. I know you know how much power you have. I know you know it. In 2015 appointment to the faculty, not to mention a senior administrative post in the Department of Surgery, “claiming that Dr Oz” has repeatedly shown contempt for science and evidence-based medicine, as well as opposition baseless and relentless to the genetic engineering of food crops. Worse yet, he has shown a glaring lack of integrity in promoting quack treatments and cures in the interest of personal financial gain. “

Yet Mehmet Oz never stops, never slows down. Sometimes he may need to stop bragging about a particular questionable piece of information, but there is always a lot more where it came from. To that end, the pandemic has been a real jackpot for him – he has been a strong proponent of a “self-reported” hydroxychloroquine clinical trial, and in 2020 shocked viewers when he said on Fox that if “opening schools can only cost us 2-3 percent in terms of total mortality… that might be a compromise some people would consider.” “(He later claimed that he had simply ‘misspoken’ himself.)

His role as the darling of the conservative movement and the defense of medical freedom was imposed on him in 2018, when Donald Trump gave him an appointment to the Presidential Council on Sport, Fitness and Nutrition. But it’s one thing to have a standing invitation to Fox News, it’s another to be elected to political office. And while America has never been short of doctors in government – or nearly unqualified doctors for public service – Oz may find himself caught between an ideological rock and a hard place now that he will have to answer. to voters of his seemingly very fluid beliefs.

In a recent interview with WGAL News, Oz, whose campaign site says “he literally has a beating heart in his hands.” He knows how precious life is and is 100% pro-life ”, qualified his position by declaring: I am pro-life, with the three usual exceptions, in particular the health of the mother, but also incest and rape. ”In 2019 he was even more expansive, speaking to the Breakfast Club about abortion restrictions in Alabama and saying,“ I’m really worried about this… Two weeks ago after your last period, you you will have to decide…. It’s all about the heartbeat. There are electrical changes at six weeks, but the heart is not beating. “

It’s a similar story about gun rights. Oz says he is “a firm believer in the Second Amendment and our constitutional right to bear arms for protection”, yet in the past guests on his show have discussed the “red flag” laws and fellow doctors have spoken about it. openly. the “public health crisis” of gun violence. He claims he is “tough on China”, but his products are made there.

Dr. Oz has, for a very long time, been a source of exasperated fury among multitudes of Americans who care about things like medical ethics and public safety. But it’s those times in his career where he’s spoken as someone who understands at least a little bit of science and humanity that can prove his political Achilles heel. You can’t just remove your old statements from the public record. And all voters, whatever their ideology, deserve candidates who are honest about their positions – not to mention where they actually live. But Oz, a man noted by his own medical colleagues for his “flagrant lack of integrity,” has long reveled in his broad appeal of being an icon for yoga moms and MAGA hats. Now he has to decide, not who he really is, who he wants voters to believe he is. And while there is no shortage of charlatans who are successful in politics, the “doctor of America” ​​may soon find he is good enough to be a senator from Pennsylvania.

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