Dr. Oz Attacks Critics in Sweeps-Timed Episode

Doctor Oz Addresses Controversy on Syndicated
Courtesy of Sony Pictures

Dr. Mehmet Oz isn’t a journalist. But his response to 10 doctors who have lobbied Columbia University to drop him from its staff didn’t come close to passing any test of basic fairness.

If Oz wanted to deflate the image that he is now more of a TV personality than a physician, the timing of the presentation – which took up the first half of his program Thursday – was also suspect. Specifically, this news-making hour was scheduled to coincide with the start of the May rating sweeps, which – even in the fading world of daytime TV – still means something to stations that carry his program, and thus felt conspicuously designed to focus attention on the show.

Labeled a “Dr. Oz Exclusive,” the hour opened with an extended taped piece that sought to impugn the motives of those who had signed the letter. Oz suggested that the central issue was his support of labeling genetically modified foods, and that the doctors involved were in the pockets of that industry, benefiting from “personal financial gain” by publicly criticizing him.

For those new to this controversy, it’s worth noting that Oz’s endorsement of miraculous weight-loss aids previously led to him being invited to testify before Congress regarding “quack treatments.” Yet he stressed the latest criticism was wholly unrelated to that matter, and that he has ceased touting such products.

In the letter sent to Columbia, the doctors cited Oz’s “disdain for science and for evidence-based medicine, as well as baseless and relentless opposition to the genetic engineering of food crops.”

Oz suggested the timing of those assertions had to do with legislation that would relax labeling on genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, enlisting a representative from the Environmental Working Group to buttress his point.

“Who should you believe? You be the judge,” said the reporter who prepared the opening segment.

Yet to “judge,” in the most common use of the term, would require the presentation of evidence on both sides. Notably, there was no indication any effort had been made to provide Oz’s critics with an opportunity to respond or rebut his claims. And while nobody would confuse “The Dr. Oz Show” with “60 Minutes,” the one-sided nature of the argument at the very least should have left viewers wondering exactly where the truth lies.

Not that this dust-up promises to damage Dr. Oz among his fans and regular viewers, although it does seem likely to raise questions about his brand among those casually acquainted with his program. Even so, he cast this as a free speech issue, stating that he would not be silenced in his commitment to provide information to consumers. Oz also blamed the media — some of which has been highly critical — for not being more skeptical in its reporting on the letter.

Clearly, this story isn’t over, but based on the “shoot the messenger” approach and tone of Thursday’s episode, “The Dr. Oz Show” won’t be the place where the issue is resolved. Then again, Oz’s original champion, Oprah Winfrey, was periodically drawn into controversies over products, causes and authors she endorsed, and all she has to show for it is a huge bank account – and her OWN network.

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  1. janineyork says:

    Label our foods period! We all have the right to know what we are eating and make our own choices. I totally support him and I am so proud of him for taking on this issue. They have so much money and influence that most don’t want to speak out against them. One of their common techniques is to discredit anyone who tries to inform people on their products questionable health effects. GMOs are not allowed in all of the countries in Europe, as well as Russia, China, even some countries in Africa. All he is calling for is labeling, not abolishing completely like these countries and continents. Just give us a choice, that is all we ask.

  2. John Saville says:

    I have to wonder if perhaps you were paid to write this piece. Say what you will about Dr. Oz but the bunch of sleaze bag doctors who attacked him are hardly reputable. It would be worth a good journalist’s time to research this type of “experts for hire” business/marketing practice that is employed by big business, big pharma and big agriculture.

  3. Suzanna Franklin says:

    Dr. Oz is Director of the Columbia Integrative medicine department , which is a fast growing area of medical treatment that has a place in the most prestigious medical centers. This is the use of holistic and combined with traditional medicine, it has demonstrated exponential benefits. To deny this is denying yourself and the public that reads this, the vast amount of knowledge and success these treatments can offer. Not to mention nothing of the snake oil salesman tobacco pushing shills and convicted felon that put that ridiculous letter together.I expect nothing less from Big Industry, and the fact that you say” It won’t be resolved here” just pads the ” pay off” component of big GMO companies and the immoral media’s conflict of interest. I’m willing to bet not a one of you eats much conventional produce or foods. You likely eat organic like our President and his family, Yet have no qualms about writing an unethical piece like this.

  4. Paul Brno says:

    Off to see the Wizard, Dr. Oz.The Wizard of Oz in the land of Oz.

  5. AG Rider says:

    He probably is not even a doctor at all?

  6. Marie says:

    I wish they would take him off the air. He acts like he knows everything when he should stick with his specialty. I suffer from migraines and decided to give him the benefit of the doubt and watch his show once. HUGE mistake! All of the foods he suggested you eat are actual migraine triggers for most. This is just one example of how wrong he is. I can only imagine all the followers who listen to his drivel about weight loss supplements.

  7. AG Rider says:

    Reading all this is scary. I hope everyone is well informed about what they put in their body. Thanks to this review site – http://bit.ly/1JdiSnh – I ran into the book that taught me everything I know about nutrition and eating whole foods.

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