Looks like Dr. Oz is no longer one of Oprah’s favorite things.
The media mogul and WW International
investor has endorsed Democrat John Fetterman over Republican Dr. Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania’s Senate race.
Oz’s senior communications advisor Rachel Tripp told MarketWatch over email that there’s no hard feelings, however. “Doctor Oz loves Oprah and respects the fact that they have different politics,” she said. “He believes we need more balance and less extremism in Washington.”
But this November surprise coming just days before the pivotal 2022 midterm elections has raised plenty of eyebrows online — namely because Winfrey is responsible for putting TV personality “Dr. Oz” on many people’s radars in the first place.
After all, Oz became a regular staple on “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” appearing in dozens of episodes before spinning off his own series, “The Dr. Oz Show,” that was launched by Winfrey’s Harpo Productions and Sony Pictures Television. Oz’s show ran for 13 seasons — and some medical professionals and publications have questioned how much he promoted pseudoscience like supposed miracle weight-loss cures. More recently, Oz made controversial claims supporting hydroxychloroquine as a COVID-19 treatment during the pandemic — until, the New York Times noted, a Veterans Affairs study showed that COVID-19 patients treated with hydroxychloroquine were more likely to die than untreated patients.
So some people have been debating Winfrey’s role in giving Oz a platform. Earlier in November, for example, actress Bette Midler tweeted, “I’m still waiting for Oprah to apologize for forcing Mehmet Oz on all of us.”
Winfrey wasn’t immediately available for comment. But she shared her endorsement on her lifestyle site OprahDaily.com, which was also tweeted from her verified Twitter account: “At the beginning of the midterm campaigns, I said it was up to citizens to vote for who would represent them. If I lived in Pennsylvania, I would have already cast my vote for John Fetterman,” she said. “There are clear choices and some dynamic candidates who are working to represent the values that so many of us hold dear — like inclusion, compassion, and community. So I ask that voters use discernment and choose wisely for the democracy of our country.”
The Fetterman campaign was not immediately available for comment. But it has embraced Oprah’s endorsement, tweeting, “Welcome to #TeamFetterman, Oprah,” along with an audio of clip of Oprah saying that if she could vote in Pennsylvania, she would have already cast her ballot for Fetterman “for many reasons.”
And the Fetterman campaign noted in a statement to media outlets like the Washington Post that “it speaks volumes that Oprah would endorse Fetterman over Oz, after declining to weigh in during Oz’s primary election.”
Yet some people have argued that the timing of Winfrey’s late endorsement is what actually spoke the loudest. “Her silence has been deafening,” tweeted one person, who was among the camp calling out Winfrey for waiting until just days before the midterms to make her endorsement.
A Daily Beast column suggested that if Winfrey “wanted her endorsement to actually matter, she should have been the brave and bold influencer that her brand says she is” and weighed in on the Pennsylvania Senate race sooner.
“She could have made a big difference in this race by speaking up sooner and more vocally,” added another on Twitter.
And, to be sure, plenty of Oz supporters have also disagreed with Oprah’s eleventh-hour endorsement, asking her to give more specific reasons for supporting Fetterman, instead.
It should be noted that this is just a sampling of how people have reacted to Winfrey choosing Fetterman over Oz, of course, and does not represent every opinion on the endorsement or the Senate race. But these conversation points led “Oprah” to sit among the top three Twitter trends throughout the day on Friday.
Winfrey also endorsed several other Democratic candidates on Thursday. “If I was in North Carolina, sister Cheri Beasley, if I was in Florida, I’d be supporting Val Demings; if I was in Wisconsin, it’d be Mandela Barnes; in Nevada, Catherine Cortez Masto; in Texas, Beto O’Rourke; and Raphael Warnock and the incredible Stacey Abrams in Georgia,” she said.
So what can we expect at the 2022 midterm elections next week?
Republicans are increasingly favored to win the Senate on Tuesday, which is leading analysts to talk about a “60-vote supermajority” for the GOP in 2024. But there is also the possibility that Senate control may not be determined until December — and here’s an article breaking down why.
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