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What stands out to me about the Oz Senate testimony

There’s no need for me to go into the details of Dr. Mehmet Oz’s tough questioning by the The U.S Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation’s Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Insurance yesterday.

It’s been widely covered.

But of many troublesome things he said, one stands out to me:   “My job is to be a cheerleader for the audience.”

That is a pretty lousy job description.

How about:

  • My job is to be a truth teller.
  • My job is to try to help the audience navigate all of the conflicting, non-evidence-based claims about health care interventions?
  • My job is not to give advice but rather to give accurate, balanced, complete information.

He also said something that shows how ill-suited he is to be a health care communicator:

“When I feel as a host of a show that I can’t use words that are flowery, that are exultatory, I feel like I’ve been disenfranchised,” Oz continued, “like my power has been taken away to get people. You don’t want to be on a pulpit talking about how passionate you are about life and thinking, well you know, if I use that word it’s going to be quoted back to me.”

It’s not a pulpit. It’s not a pom-pom waving cheerleading role.  The words matter, as we’ve written many times on this website. As Sen. Claire McCaskill, who chairs the Senate’s Consumer Protection panel, said to him, “You can be part of the police here or you can be part of the problem.” What he said at the hearing shows he’s still part of the problem.

The entire Senate hearing, “Protecting Consumers From False and Deceptive Advertising of Weight-Loss Products,” can be seen online.

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