We’ve reached the point, I guess, where “cancel” has no meaning apart from someone on the other side saying something that causes a problem for you.
How do you “cancel” someone by using their name?
This ad has the distinct vibe of someone trying to speak populist conservatism as a second language. He’s got all the “us and them” buzzwords about victimhood right but it just doesn’t land. You can see his heart’s not in it.
My campaign is gaining momentum, so the @PhillyInquirer and the @theView believe it’s time to cancel me because of my strong conservative values…well, I am not going to let that happen. pic.twitter.com/ovLxyVY2ka
— Dr. Mehmet Oz (@DrOz) December 13, 2021
He went on Fox — where else? — later to try to convert this new complaint into credibility among Republican voters as a media antagonist. If the press is out to get him, he must be worth supporting, right?
The Philadelphia Inquirer recently announced that it will refer to Dr. Oz by his name – Mehmet Oz – in articles about the Senate campaign, just like all other candidates. Oz is outraged this about that this morning, saying that it is “shocking” and “they want to silence me.” pic.twitter.com/E39t60n6Jj
— Ron Filipkowski (@RonFilipkowski) December 13, 2021
Here’s a list of doctors who are currently members of Congress. Before looking at it I had no idea that more than half were physicians by trade; the only one I see described with the title “Dr.” occasionally in media is Ronny Jackson, an unusual case in that he used to be the doctor to the president. John Barrasso, Bill Cassidy, Roger Marshall, Rand Paul — they’re all physicians but are almost never referred to that way in routine media usage. So why should Dr. Oz be treated differently?
And no, the rules aren’t different for Democrats. Val Arkoosh is running for the Democratic nomination for Senate in Pennsylvania opposite Oz. She’s a medical doctor yet her title wasn’t given in this recent Philly Inquirer round-up of candidate fundraising. John Fetterman was described as “Lt. Gov. John Fetterman” but that’s not because the media has special rules for Democrats here. Contra Oz’s ad, it’s because public officials are typically referred to by their honorifics even after they’ve left office. Recall Joe Biden being described as “Vice President Joe Biden” in last year’s primaries or Jeb Bush being called “Gov. Jeb Bush” in 2016.
I can think of two reasons why his first name might be a touchy subject for Oz, though. He might suspect that “Mehmet” isn’t the best name to have when you’re running in a Republican primary competing for populist votes. Maybe his Muslim faith won’t cost him any votes. Maybe it will. Beyond that, the name “Dr. Oz” is such a well-known brand from his years on television that he’d naturally want to leverage it for name recognition. Low information voters who don’t pay much attention to the race might go in the booth on primary day and be willing to vote for “Dr. Oz.” But not some rando on the ballot named “Mehmet Oz.”
Frankly, I’m not sure what Oz wants from the media. Would he settle for being called “Dr. Mehmet Oz” the first time he’s mentioned in a news story and then “Oz” thereafter? Or does he want to called “Dr. Oz” exclusively, with his first name unmentioned?
He could always force them to call him “Doctor Oz” by legally changing his first name from “Mehmet” to “Doctor.” But … then he’d be “Dr. Doctor Oz.”
He’s thirsty enough for this Senate seat that I wouldn’t put it past him.
Actual populists have begun to notice that Oz isn’t one of them. He’s soft on gun control and on abortion, and he’s said enough encouraging things about vaccination that I’m not sure how he’ll ever finesse the subject in a Republican primary:
America should have been the world leader on how to beat the pandemic. Although we had some moments of brilliance, such as the gift to the world of mRNA vaccines made possible by President Donald Trump’s Operation Warp Speed, many great ideas were squashed. That’s not the America my parents came to. That’s not the one I grew up in. That’s not the one I want to leave behind.
Lately he’s begun calling on Fauci to resign to try to appease Republicans but I’ve thought from the start of his candidacy that vaccine policy will be a difficult “authenticity” problem for him. He can badmouth Fauci, he can oppose mandates, but he doesn’t have the reservoir of populist goodwill that someone like Ron DeSantis can fall back on when he recommends vaccination. Republican voters will want to leverage Oz’s title and expertise for the anti-vax cause by insisting that he say something discouraging about the COVID shots. If he does so, he’ll have betrayed his profession and damaged public health. If he refuses, the perception that he’s not “one of us” will deepen and may become disqualifying.
Oz feels that perception keenly too. Reportedly the centrist CNN anchor Michael Smerconish recently invited Oz on his show and Oz told him no: “I can’t possibly do that because it would upset everybody at Fox. And I’ll come on your show after the primary.” That’s the Glenn Youngkin strategy. Be MAGA friendly in the primary and then pivot away in the general. Maybe Oz will end up anti-vax in the first half of the race and pro-vax in the second half.
Whatever happens, I hope he’s happy with the outcome of this adventure. It’s already cost him his TV show.