The good news is that Dr. Mehmet Oz, still fighting for the distinction of being Oprah’s most malevolent spawn in an already very crowded field, won’t be returning to his Sony Pictures Television talk show for a 14th season next year. The bad news: He’s got more time to focus on his Senate run.
The former hydroxychloroquine hype-man, a New Jersey resident of more than 20 years, has inexplicably joined the Republican primary race in Pennsylvania. He’s angling to replace soon-to-retire Senator Pat Toomey, but Sony Pictures didn’t indicate that Oz’s political ambitions were the reason for The Dr. Oz Show’s cancellation. Still, the daytime series has already had to be pulled in New York City, Philadelphia, and Cleveland, due to FCC rules mandating “equal time” on the air for political candidates. The series will be replaced by a food-themed chat show co-hosted by Oz’s daughter, The Chew alum and diet book author Daphne Oz.
At this point, Dr. Oz feels like a doctor more along the lines of Dre or Seuss, but the reality is that he’s an actual medical provider. As a celebrated heart surgeon, he’s saved lives, contributed to medical literature, and holds more than ten surgical patents. He survived an attempted ouster by concerned physicians and remains affiliated with the Columbia University Department of Surgery. All of this makes his turn towards unfounded health advice even more alarming because it’s backed by the full force of his Ivy-League credibility. He’s given airtime to scammy diets, homeopathy, iridology, psychics, and even conversion therapy, all part of his efforts to popularize fringe medicine debunked by his peers.
In a 2013 New Yorker interview, Oz offered a picture of the medical landscape he’d like us to inhabit. “I would take us all back a thousand years,” he said, “when our ancestors lived in small villages and there was always a healer in that village—and his job wasn’t to give you heart surgery or medication but to help find a safe place for conversation.” Just imagine all the great conversations healers had with patients dying from hangnails in the good old days before vaccines, antibiotics, and germ theory.
Outside of his questionable career choices, Oz has spoken out about how he’s not a fan of the Philadelphia Inquirer’s policy of calling him “Mehmet Oz”—his real and legal name—in its headlines about the Senate race. The paper has chosen to do so in favor of referring to him as Dr. Oz, the name by which he’s best known, as per a rule mandated by their style guide. Despite this, Oz claims that referring to him by the name his mom and dad gave him amounts to an attempt to cancel him.
Speaking of his parents, we should also spare a thought for his now-late father, Dr. Mustafa Oz, who wasn’t on board with his kid’s harmful woo. “He thinks what I’m doing is very fringe and he’s worried about me,” the younger Dr. Oz told the New Yorker before his father’s death. “He keeps asking me when I will be done playing around with this stuff and settle back down to medicine.” Looks like it could be a long wait.