Dr. Mehmet Oz is the Trump-endorsed Senate candidate in Pennsylvania. For years he had a relationship with Columbia University where he has been a ‘professor emeritus’ since 2018. The university has been quietly scrubbing any trace of that relationship from his website as election day approaches. One doctor is speaking out calling it a “chickens**t” move.
It’s not that it is anything new that the celebrity doctor, a trained heart surgeon who has been a professor at the Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons since 2001, is facing opposition from other doctors. In 2015, a group of 10 prominent doctors from around the country urged the university to oust Oz from his seat on the faculty and his senior administrative position in the Department of Surgery. In 2018 Oz was changed to professor emeritus in an apparent signal of his retirement. The group accused Oz of not following the science, if you will, and violating medical ethics with his controversial opinions, including “fear-mongering” on the issue of genetically modified foods.
The first calls for Oz to be fired from his position with Columbia came in April 2015 after he was accused of pushing highly debatable medical advice on his syndicated TV show.
Those calls came in the form of a letter that was signed more than 1,300 physicians.
The letter accused Oz of ‘disdain for science and for evidence-based medicine.’ At that time, Columbia stood by the doctor.
During his career with Columbia, Oz held titles such as Vice Chair of Surgery and Director of Integrated Medicine.
Dr. Oz is running for a seat in the U.S. Senate now with the endorsement of Trump. It remains to be seen how much Trump endorsements will play a part in the minds of Republican voters during midterm primary races. In the meantime, Columbia University is taking this opportunity to quietly scour their website and remove any mentions of Oz. A Boston pediatrician calls out Columbia for their actions and questions why now?
Boston-based pediatrician Dr. Daniel Summers was highly critical Columbia quietly distancing themselves from Oz.
Summers told The Daily Beast, ‘Their handling of his status there is a massive blot on their reputation. What a chickens**t thing to do.’
Oz has been a controversial figure in the medical community for years. In 2014 a British Medical Journal study of his endorsements found half of his claims to be without factual support. Oz appeared before a Senate committee hearing in 2015 to answer for some of his claims. Most recently he has been the source of criticism for his support of hydroxychloroquine during the coronavirus pandemic.
Saturday a piece was published by Raw Story calling for Oprah to take responsibility for turning Oz into a celebrity, a household name, thanks to her television show. Oddly, the piece is written by Dr. Summers, who calls out Columbia for it’s “chickens**t” move.
“Were it not for Oprah, Oz would have played out his career as an eminent and widely respected cardiothoracic surgeon, and everyone would have been better off,” he told The Daily Beast. “His celebrity, and thus his candidacy, stems directly from her own fame and her promotion of him.”
Summers said it is “long past time for her to acknowledge her role in making him what he is, and make some attempt to stop the damage he is causing by repudiating him.”
Obviously Summers isn’t a fan of Oz’s celebrity status. I would be surprised if he was supportive of Trump’s endorsement, too. But, he is right – no one knew of Oz, other than his patients and the medical community, before Oprah made him a regular guest on her wildly popular daytime television show. Because of her, he was given his own show. Oprah played a major part in creating celebrities of people in various careers. She did it for Suze Orman and financial advice, Dr. Phil and his show about personal advice for a more successful life, as well as various chefs, and motivational speakers. Diet gurus were frequent guests, too. Let’s just say that Oprah didn’t always make the best decisions on who to promote to star level.
Arguments can be made about Oz’s endorsements but he is a legitimate doctor. He accused the Philadelphia Inquirer of trying to cancel him last December because they referred to him by his given name, Mehmet Oz, instead of Dr. Oz. For someone counting on his celebrity status to win him a seat in the Senate, that’s bad news. “This morning [the Inquirer] just announced, ‘No more doctor,’ even though I’m a practicing physician. I’ve taken care of patients. I’ve done thousands of heart surgeries,” Oz said in a December campaign video on his Twitter account. “They don’t want to call me doctor anymore. I won’t be canceled.”
I wonder if the newspaper would call him Dr. Oz if he was running as a Democrat. The press falls all over itself to call the first lady as Dr. Biden, as she insists, and most people with a doctorate in education, not a Ph.D. do not do that. Just a thought.
Will Trump’s endorsement help Dr. Oz? As of today, Real Clear Politics shows him trailing David McCormick by 3.4%. Trump is doing an event with Oz in Greensburg, Pennsylvania on May 6th. Election day for the primary is May 17.