Celebrity Surgeon Dr. Oz: A Glimpse Behind the Curtain

Commentary Political neophyte Dr. Mehmet Oz needs to answer a few questions during his primary campaign for the U.S. Senate. Oz has come a long way in the public eye since hosting the Discovery Channel’s “Second Opinion with Dr. Oz” in 2003: over 60 appearances on Oprah Winfrey’s talk show, becoming a daytime talk show host himself beginning in 2009, author of eight bestselling books, and now a declared Republican candidate for U.S. senator in Pennsylvania in 2022. His daytime “The Dr. Oz Show,” which covered health matters, medicine (including the “alternative” variety), and pseudoscience over the years, ended its 13-year run on Jan. 14 after he announced his candidacy for the U.S. Senate. The show was very popular and it received five Daytime Emmy Awards for “outstanding talk show/informative” while Oz himself has earned four Daytime Emmy Awards for “outstanding informative talk show host.” Darren Prince (C) on the set of “The Dr. Oz Show” where he appeared as a guest. (Courtesy of Darren Prince) Oz is a second-generation Turkish American who grew up in a Muslim family. In addition, as a practicing Muslim, he is one of a handful of Americans listed in the 2022 edition of “The Muslim 500: The World’s 500 Most Influential Muslims 2022” (refer to page 186), which is an annual list published by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center, a Jordanian think tank. If he is elected to the U.S. Senate, Oz would be the first Muslim to do so. While well-regarded by Hollywood and his viewing audience, Oz has been no stranger to controversy over the years. In order to be elected, he will have to overcome a few troubling issues that David McCormick, his main opponent in the Republican primary (along with a dozen other lesser-known candidates), will be sure to elucidate to Pennsylvania’s Republican voters before the primary election on May 17. China Connections The first controversy involves recent revelations in Politico of Oz’s long-term sponsorship deal to promote the products of Usana Health Sciences for 10 years on his show. The company is headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah, and has offices in Hong Kong, Singapore, and Taiwan. According to its own company report in 2020, Usana’s largest single market is China, which is also where it makes some of its products. From its own website, Usana reported net sales of $125.8 million in “Greater China” in the fourth quarter of 2021, which was 47 percent of the company’s total for the quarter. A company announcement in 2016 described how Usana’s China subsidiary, BabyCare Ltd., had received Chinese government approval “to expand direct selling activities in eight additional provinces/municipalities within China,” including in the provinces of Liaoning, Shandong, Shanxi, Sichuan, Guangdong, and the cities of Dalian, Qingdao, and Shenzhen. Oz’s sponsorship deal with Usana is eye-popping. According to Politico, “in a 2018 court filing made in a trademark infringement case against Usana, the plaintiff said that Oz’s show was paid more than $50 million in the previous five years to promote the products of Usana.” That promotion has included business travel to China, which involved filming some segments of his show by state-owned China Central Television (CCTV), as well as promotional tours with Usana representatives. Oz’s Chinese connection goes further, as his show has been syndicated for years in China. As reported in 2019 by CISION PR Newswire: “Aofei Media now distributes new episodes of The Dr. Oz Show in China with Chinese subtitles. On December 25, 2018 it became available on digital platforms including Youku, Tencent Penguin, iQiyi, Sohu Video and Sina Weibo.” This amounts to a direct revenue stream to Oz from communist China. What makes all of this particularly relevant in the Pennsylvania senate primary is Oz’s main line of attack against McCormick, a former hedge fund manager, for his management of $5 billion in Chinese assets. McCormick has already made Oz’s own Chinese connections a campaign issue. From Fox News, McCormick’s campaign spokesman made this charge on Feb. 2: “Mehmet Oz—citizen of Turkey, creature of Hollywood—has spent the last 20 years making his fortune from syndicating his show in China, enriching itself through censorship and CCP propaganda.” Ties to Turkish Government The second controversy involves Oz’s various connections to Turkey. He maintains dual Turkish-American citizenship and actually served in the Turkish military during the 1980s. Then there are reports, including this one from National Review, that Oz has long had “links to Turkey’s authoritarian Justice and Development Party (AKP) [that] extend to foreign agents and proxies accused of operating a secret lobby in the U.S. and spying on American citizens.” He has met the AKP’s leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is the current authoritarian Turkish president. According to the Investigative Project on Terrorism, AKP and its American supporters lobbied Congress in 2018 to

Celebrity Surgeon Dr. Oz: A Glimpse Behind the Curtain

Commentary

Political neophyte Dr. Mehmet Oz needs to answer a few questions during his primary campaign for the U.S. Senate.

Oz has come a long way in the public eye since hosting the Discovery Channel’s “Second Opinion with Dr. Oz” in 2003: over 60 appearances on Oprah Winfrey’s talk show, becoming a daytime talk show host himself beginning in 2009, author of eight bestselling books, and now a declared Republican candidate for U.S. senator in Pennsylvania in 2022.

His daytime “The Dr. Oz Show,” which covered health matters, medicine (including the “alternative” variety), and pseudoscience over the years, ended its 13-year run on Jan. 14 after he announced his candidacy for the U.S. Senate. The show was very popular and it received five Daytime Emmy Awards for “outstanding talk show/informative” while Oz himself has earned four Daytime Emmy Awards for “outstanding informative talk show host.”

The set of "The Dr. Oz Show"
Darren Prince (C) on the set of “The Dr. Oz Show” where he appeared as a guest. (Courtesy of Darren Prince)

Oz is a second-generation Turkish American who grew up in a Muslim family. In addition, as a practicing Muslim, he is one of a handful of Americans listed in the 2022 edition of “The Muslim 500: The World’s 500 Most Influential Muslims 2022” (refer to page 186), which is an annual list published by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center, a Jordanian think tank. If he is elected to the U.S. Senate, Oz would be the first Muslim to do so.

While well-regarded by Hollywood and his viewing audience, Oz has been no stranger to controversy over the years. In order to be elected, he will have to overcome a few troubling issues that David McCormick, his main opponent in the Republican primary (along with a dozen other lesser-known candidates), will be sure to elucidate to Pennsylvania’s Republican voters before the primary election on May 17.

China Connections

The first controversy involves recent revelations in Politico of Oz’s long-term sponsorship deal to promote the products of Usana Health Sciences for 10 years on his show. The company is headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah, and has offices in Hong Kong, Singapore, and Taiwan.

According to its own company report in 2020, Usana’s largest single market is China, which is also where it makes some of its products. From its own website, Usana reported net sales of $125.8 million in “Greater China” in the fourth quarter of 2021, which was 47 percent of the company’s total for the quarter.

A company announcement in 2016 described how Usana’s China subsidiary, BabyCare Ltd., had received Chinese government approval “to expand direct selling activities in eight additional provinces/municipalities within China,” including in the provinces of Liaoning, Shandong, Shanxi, Sichuan, Guangdong, and the cities of Dalian, Qingdao, and Shenzhen.

Oz’s sponsorship deal with Usana is eye-popping. According to Politico, “in a 2018 court filing made in a trademark infringement case against Usana, the plaintiff said that Oz’s show was paid more than $50 million in the previous five years to promote the products of Usana.”

That promotion has included business travel to China, which involved filming some segments of his show by state-owned China Central Television (CCTV), as well as promotional tours with Usana representatives.

Oz’s Chinese connection goes further, as his show has been syndicated for years in China. As reported in 2019 by CISION PR Newswire: “Aofei Media now distributes new episodes of The Dr. Oz Show in China with Chinese subtitles. On December 25, 2018 it became available on digital platforms including Youku, Tencent Penguin, iQiyi, Sohu Video and Sina Weibo.” This amounts to a direct revenue stream to Oz from communist China.

What makes all of this particularly relevant in the Pennsylvania senate primary is Oz’s main line of attack against McCormick, a former hedge fund manager, for his management of $5 billion in Chinese assets. McCormick has already made Oz’s own Chinese connections a campaign issue.

From Fox News, McCormick’s campaign spokesman made this charge on Feb. 2: “Mehmet Oz—citizen of Turkey, creature of Hollywood—has spent the last 20 years making his fortune from syndicating his show in China, enriching itself through censorship and CCP propaganda.”

Ties to Turkish Government

The second controversy involves Oz’s various connections to Turkey. He maintains dual Turkish-American citizenship and actually served in the Turkish military during the 1980s.

Then there are reports, including this one from National Review, that Oz has long had “links to Turkey’s authoritarian Justice and Development Party (AKP) [that] extend to foreign agents and proxies accused of operating a secret lobby in the U.S. and spying on American citizens.” He has met the AKP’s leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is the current authoritarian Turkish president.

According to the Investigative Project on Terrorism, AKP and its American supporters lobbied Congress in 2018 to “end US support for Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG)” who were among America’s staunchest allies in fighting ISIS.

The “spying on American citizens” refers to Ahval News reports that the Turkish embassy used a law firm “to gather intel on [American] associates of Fethullah Gülen, an Islamist preacher living in self-exile in Pennsylvania whose religious movement Turkey blames for a coup attempt in 2016.”

These connections need to be explained by Oz in greater detail.

Epoch Times Photo
This undated image released by Sony Pictures Entertainment shows Dr. Oz (left) and Donald Trump during a taping of “The Dr. Oz Show” in New York. (Sony Pictures Entertainment via AP)

Pseudoscience, Weight-Loss Pills, COVID Cure

Oz’s residency as a cardiothoracic surgeon at Presbyterian Hospital in New York City led to the establishment of the affiliated Cardiac Complementary Care Center in 1994 at which he practiced the controversial technique called the “therapeutic touch.” As described by Mount Sinai, therapeutic touch involves “laying on of hands” to supposedly balance the energy fields of the body.

As reported by Popular Science in June 2014, Oz was called to testify before a Senate subcommittee involved in consumer product protection.

“The committee chastised him about the unscientific claims he makes about weight loss treatments on his popular show. Members of the committee … worried that Oz’s statements fuel a predatory industry of supplement-sellers. … After Oz endorses unproven products such as green coffee extract and raspberry ketone, businesses often use his own quotes to help them sell products that are ineffective at best and dangerous at worst,” the report said.

The supplement industry has received considerable oversight by the U.S. Congress because many of the claims made by manufacturers have not been proven or validated by the FDA. Oz has—inadvertently or not—served as a good marketer for the supplement industry over the years.

In 2018, then-President Donald Trump appointed Oz to the Council on Sports, Fitness, and Nutrition. While serving in that capacity, Oz endorsed the use of the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) to combat COVID-19.

Given Trump’s mention of the drug, HCQ has since become a political football, although the science is clear about its positive therapeutic value when used as prophylaxis and for early treatment of COVID-infected patients.

However, while Oz’s endorsement of HCQ may endear himself to Republican primary voters, that same vocal support for HCQ may cause problems for Oz with Democrat voters during the general election, especially those who remain viscerally anti-Trump über alles!

Carpetbagger

Lastly, Oz may have a carpetbagger problem to overcome, as he only recently established residence in Pennsylvania. He is a longtime New Jersey resident where he owns a six-bedroom, eight-bathroom mansion, according to Hello! Magazine.

But then, if Hillary Clinton could claim to be a New Yorker and win election to the U.S. Senate in 2000, carpetbagging accusations may be the least of Oz’s worries.

Can Oz overcome these controversies, especially his troubling China connections, to win the Pennsylvania primary? Or could a lesser candidate without “Chinese baggage” break through? Time will tell.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.


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Stu Cvrk retired as a captain after serving 30 years in the U.S. Navy in a variety of active and reserve capacities, with considerable operational experience in the Middle East and the Western Pacific. Through education and experience as an oceanographer and systems analyst, Cvrk is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, where he received a classical liberal education that serves as the key foundation for his political commentary.