Dr. Michael Aziz (R) called GOP U.S. Senate candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz a ‘doctor in name only,’ during a news conference in Pittsburgh on Wednesday, 10/26/22. Aziz and Dr. Dr. Todd Wolynn (L) are supporters of Democratic Senate nominee John Fetterman (Capital-Star photo by Ethan Dodd).
(*This story was updated at 9:44 a.m. on Thursday 10/27/22 to update a reference to Dr. Michael Aziz.)
PITTSBURGH – During Tuesday’s nationally watched U.S. Senate debate, Democratic nominee, John Fetterman sparred with Republican opponent Mehmet Oz in their first, and only, televised face-off.
On Wednesday, the Democrat’s campaign went on the attack, holding a press conference in a Downtown office building calling into question the same medical qualifications that Oz said made him best-suited to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa.
Oz closed the debate saying, “I’m a surgeon. We take big problems and fix them.”
Standing behind a banner that read “Real Doctors Against Oz,” Dr. Michael Aziz said he was there “because of Dr. Oz using his authority and credibility as a physician inappropriately.”
The *Pittsburgh physician explained, “Real physicians might make good representatives,” listing their evidence-based training, pragmatism, and pledge to do no harm.
“Dr. Oz has violated that and violated his oath,” by spreading harmful medical misinformation on his decade-long television program, he continued. “That’s why I say he’s a doctor in name only.”
With a medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and once holding the surgery department vice chairmanship at Columbia University’s medical school, Oz made it big on television, first as talk show Oprah Winfrey’s go-to medical expert and later as the host of The Dr. Oz Show.
On air from 2008 until its final episode this year, Oz made millions of dollars as he promoted dubious and dangerous products whose companies have been federally investigated for bribery and multilevel marketing schemes, according to the Associated Press.
Long before his Senate bid, 10 medical professionals sought his removal from Columbia faculty in 2015 for “promoting quack treatments and cures in the interest of personal financial gain,” according to The Washingt Post.
Joining Aziz, Dr. Todd Wolynn said, “This history of pushing disinformation is incredibly harmful.”
The Pittsburgh-based pediatrician made a name for himself countering medical disinformation on TikTok and through his non-profit Shots Heard Round the World after a globally coordinated social media campaign tried to discredit his practice for spreading information about the importance of HPV vaccination.
Oz defended himself against attacks on his television career telling moderators at Tuesday’s debate that “It’s a television show like this is a television show.”
Wolynn offered his own analysis.
“I’m not certain that he would go forward treating working in the Senate any differently than a TV show,” he said.
The debate was the public’s first chance to see Fetterman unscripted since he suffered a stroke in May, days before his victory in the Democratic primary. At times, he combined words and appeared to struggle to finish answering questions.
Asked about Fetterman’s performance at the debate, Aziz said, “We’re not his physicians, but the impact that it has had has been on his auditory processing and word processing, not on his cognition. The way that he thinks, the way that he understands the issues is perfect.”
Aziz said Oz “used his special position in society to profit to the detriment of … viewers.”
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