Dr. Oz Stands Up for First Amendment Right to Promote False Health Claims

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In case you haven’t been keeping up with Dr. Mehmet Oz since he won a spot in America’s heart by analyzing poop with Oprah, the doctor now has his own daytime TV show, where, according to many in the medical community, he frequently shares questionable health claims with his 1.8 million daily viewers. (You can read about it in this British Medical Journal study. But let’s be honest: You’d rather watch John Oliver’s takedown.)

Last week, ten doctors sent a letter to Columbia University calling for Dr. Oz to be booted from his faculty position for “promoting quack treatments and cures in the interest of personal financial gain.” Now the doctor has released a preview of his rebuttal, which will air on Thursday (the start of “sweeps,” as CNN points out). “This month, we celebrate my 1,000th show,” Dr. Oz says in the clip. “I know I’ve irritated some potential allies in our quest to make America healthy. No matter our disagreements, freedom of speech is the most fundamental right we have as Americans. And these ten doctors are trying to silence that right.”

A spokesman for The Dr. Oz Show told CNN the rebuttal takes up two thirds of the program, and Dr. Oz will question his accusers’ over their ties to the American Council on Science and Health, which supports genetically modified foods. (Oz thinks these foods should be labeled, but the complaints about his on-air claims go far beyond that issue.) The clip concludes with Dr. Oz saying, “So I vow to you right here and right now: We will not be silenced, we will not give in.”

As a refresher, this is what the First Amendment says: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

That’s not really what’s happening here, but maybe Dr. Oz got confused when he was called out during a Senate hearing last summer for promoting products like a weight-loss supplement that sparked an FTC lawsuit over false advertising. “The scientific community is almost monolithic against you in terms of the efficacy of the three products you called ‘miracles,’” said Senator Claire McCaskill. “I don’t get why you need to say this stuff when you know it’s not true. When you have this amazing megaphone, why would you cheapen your show?”