Dr. Oz, go sell your magic beans someplace else

York Dispatch Editorial Board

Let's take a trip back in time to 2014.

Mehmet Oz, television's "Dr. Oz," was flying high on the success of a syndicated daytime talk show and a burgeoning empire peddling a cavalcade of pills and potions with bombastic claims of curative properties.

He fed his viewers a steady diet of malarkey like this: "You may believe magic is make-believe but this little bean has scientists saying they've got the magic weight-loss cure."

Then he was called to the U.S. Senate to testify before a panel on the largely unregulated weight-loss pills he'd been shilling. For a brief moment, it seemed like Oz's irresponsible behavior was catching up with him.

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When asked about his claims of miracle pills, Oz responded: "There's not a pill that's going to help you long term lose weight without diet and exercise."

FILE - This Dec. 4, 2019 file photo shows Dr. Mehmet Oz at the 14th annual L'Oreal Paris Women of Worth Gala in New York.  Oz, joins the Republican field of possible candidates aiming to capture Pennsylvania's open U.S. Senate seat in next year's election. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)

A subsequent study of Oz's show's medical claims by the British Medical Association found that fewer than half had any supporting evidence to back them up.

Newly chastened, Oz portrayed himself as the unwitting victim, a dupe who'd been fooled by the cure-alls' promoters. Those people — not Oz — had leveraged his show's audience and his reputation to sell their wares.

"I recognize that my enthusiastic language has made the problem worse at times," he said after the hearing, vowing to exercise greater care in the future.

Well, the future came.

And Oz continued his huckster ways.

Last year, in an appearance on Fox News during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, he argued that reopening schools "may only cost us 2 to 3 percent in terms of total mortality."

He added: "We need our mojo back."

To his credit, Oz — once again — apologized, although he blamed the public for misconstruing his words.

"I've realized my comments on risks around opening schools have confused and upset people, which was never my intention," he said. "I misspoke."

Similarly, Oz spoke loosely about using of the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine as a COVID treatment — a possibility that was roundly discredited — only to back-pedal slightly when the blowback came.

"The fact of the matter is, we don't know," he told Fox News.

Now, the man who's sold viewers on magic beans and mused about sacrificing lives in the name of mojo has joined the overstuffed field of candidates to replace U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey.

Nevermind that Oz's connection to Pennsylvania is tenuous at best. His campaign claims that he's lived and voted here for the past year but a simple property search (and Oz's own website, until recently) shows he's resided in Cliffside Park, N.J., for decades.

Mr. Oz — he may have a degree but he hasn't earned the honorific of "doctor" — has a long history of spreading misinformation only to issue half-hearted apologies after the fact. He simply cannot seem to take responsibility for his words or deeds.

The cynics among us could justifiably assume that Oz's past hucksterism makes him well-suited to a career in politics. But now is not a time for cynicism. We need ethical, plainspoken people who will put the wellbeing of Pennsylvanians first.

Put simply, we have enough charlatans in Pennsylvania politics. We don't need to import any more from out of the state.

Mr. Oz, please, go sell your magic beans someplace else.