Dr. Oz’s latest effort to look like a regular-guy Pennsylvanian was yet another stunt designed to pull the wool over voters’ eyes.
October 15, 2022

The “community discussion” was about as authentic as Dr. Mehmet Oz’s crudité shopping at “Wegner’s” and his Pennsylvania “residence.”

Oz almost got away with this one, thanks to a credulous media. From The Intercept:

The woman, Sheila Armstrong, sat next to Oz at a September 19 event his campaign described as a “community discussion” in Philadelphia’s Germantown neighborhood. Armstrong held a handmade sign which said that her lost relatives were “gone but not forgotten,” and her anguished tears were broadcast to the city that day by the local NBC News affiliate, and described in reports on the event by the Philadelphia Inquirer and KYW Newsradio.

Even worse, the Associated Press, whose articles get distributed widely to other news outlets, fell for it. As The Intercept noted, AP opened its piece with just the kind of language the Oz campaign hoped for:

As Sheila Armstrong grew emotional in recounting how her brother and nephew were killed in Philadelphia, Dr. Mehmet Oz — sitting next to her inside a Black church, their chairs arranged a bit like his former daytime TV show set — placed a comforting hand on her shoulder.

Later, he gave her a hug, and said, “How do you cope?”

Fortunately, Fetterman’s campaign manager, Brendan McPhillips recognized and outed Armstrong. The AP’s second paragraph now acknowledges that Armstrong “has been an employee of Oz’s campaign for Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senate seat.”

The AP article does not highlight Oz’s duplicitousness, though. In fact, it helps Oz’s image-polishing with this quote: “’The best thing a doctor does is listen. You can’t fix a problem you don’t hear. So, I’ve spent a career heeding that and trying to understand what people are trying to say because then you can really get to the answers,’ Oz said.”

But Oz didn’t really want to hear what the community was saying. Democratic state Rep. Chris Rabb pointed out that the meeting was by invitation only, to a carefully selected group of people. At least two of them have appeared in other Oz campaign material, The Intercept found.

It’s one thing to stage a public event for good publicity, a regular practice with political campaigns. But this was a deliberate effort to deceive.

It’s a feature, not a bug, of the Oz campaign.

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