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Why Fetterman is calling Oz ‘a malicious scam artist’ in their race

Mehmet Oz has told voters his approaches to medicine and politics are similar. Given the Republican's record, that’s not an especially persuasive pitch.


Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senate race is among the nation’s most important, and as a result, it’s focused on a variety of things. Voters in the Keystone State have heard quite a bit, for example, about Mehmet Oz having few meaningful connections to Pennsylvania and Lt. Gov. John Fetterman having a stroke several months ago.

What’s surprised me about their contest, however, is the lack of conversation about Oz’s biggest vulnerability — which the Republican generally presents as his biggest asset.

Oz has had great financial success as a celebrity physician on television, which has not only made him a household name across much of the country, but which has also positioned him as a credible voice of authority.

The closer one looks at his record, however, the more problematic it becomes. The New York Times reported late last year, for example, that Oz has a history of “dispensing dubious medical advice” and making “sweeping claims based on thin evidence.” The article referenced controversial comments the Republican has made about everything from weight-loss pills to apple juice to cellphones. Oz even promoted hydroxychloroquine on Fox News in 2020 as a possible Covid-19 treatment.

A group of doctors even sought his firing from Columbia University’s medical faculty in 2015, arguing that he had “repeatedly shown disdain for science and for evidence-based medicine.”

The Washington Post had a related report this week:

[During his television show’s run] from 2009 to 2021, Oz provided a platform for potentially dangerous products and fringe viewpoints, aimed at millions of viewers, according to medical experts, public health organizations and federal health guidance.

Soon after, Fetterman, the Republican’s Democratic rival, said in a statement, “Dr. Oz is not just a phony and a fraud, he is a malicious scam artist. For two decades Dr. Oz has just been putting on a show for the cameras, saying whatever will benefit himself personally — regardless of who gets hurt, whether he believes it, or whether it’s even true.”

This was soon followed by a brutal online video, released by the Fetterman campaign, in which the lieutenant governor equated Oz with Dr. Nick, the fictional quack doctor from “The Simpsons.”

For his part, the doctor-turned-host-turned-candidate has questioned his critics’ motives and denied any wrongdoing. As for his suspect medical claims, Oz acknowledged his use of “colorful language“ during a Senate hearing in 2014 in which the Republican faced bipartisan criticism.

In case this weren’t quite enough, NBC News published this piece overnight from Brian Kateman, cofounder and president of the Reducetarian Foundation and professor of environmental science and sustainability. It highlighted a Jezebel report that said from 1989 to 2010, “research by Dr. Mehmet Oz ... inflicted suffering on and killed over 300 dogs, 31 pigs and 661 rabbits and rodents.”

The Senate hopeful has told voters his approaches to medicine and politics are similar. Given Oz’s record, that’s not an especially persuasive pitch.