Oprah Winfrey has donated $16 million to coronavirus relief. Picture: The Call to Unite via AP
Oprah Winfrey has donated $16 million to coronavirus relief. Picture: The Call to Unite via AP

Don’t blame Oprah for Dr Oz and Dr Phil’s COVID comments

Oprah raised me weekdays at 1pm for a decade; taught me so much I know about life, safety, cooking and family. She is the only God I acknowledge, and from my totally unbiased perspective, she can do no wrong.

That's a controversial opinion, I know.

Despite her popularity, power and influence in the media, Oprah's had plenty of (envious) detractors.

But Lady O and her multi-billion dollar fortune, (and me and my woefully small single mum income), don't really care what anyone thinks. We know the truth.

Having said that, I need to rise to the occasion now, because Oprah has been trending on Twitter and called out by Hollywood celebrities like Seth MacFarlane, through no fault of her own, but thanks to two doctors once associated with her who have gone rogue.

Dr Phil McGraw and Dr Mehmet Oz shot to fame thanks to The Oprah Winfrey Show in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Oprah presented them as experts in their fields, and both men soon became hugely popular in their own rights.

Oprah Winfrey may have made Dr Phil and Dr Oz famous, but she is not responsible for what they say. Picture: Adam Bettcher/Getty Images
Oprah Winfrey may have made Dr Phil and Dr Oz famous, but she is not responsible for what they say. Picture: Adam Bettcher/Getty Images

That was two decades ago.

Since then, both men have slowly lost some credibility for many viewers, by promoting pseudoscience (Oz), to being revealed as not a medical doctor as previously believed (McGraw). But the nails in their coffins came with their controversial COVID-19 takes.

Oz and McGraw did individual interviews recently which have attracted significant backlash.

McGraw told Fox News that the American lockdown could cause "more deaths across time than the actual virus will itself."

"The fact of the matter is 45,000 people a year die from automobile accidents, 480,000 from cigarettes, 360,000 a year from swimming pools, but we don't shut the country down for that, but yet we're doing it for this? The fallout is going to last for years because people's lives are being destroyed," he said.

Social media outrage ensued, despite him later apologising.

Oz also spoke to Fox and suggested that a low mortality rate among students should be considered to re-open schools; which some interpreted as sacrificing some children.

"I just saw a nice piece in The Lancet arguing the opening of schools may only cost us 2 to 3 per cent, in terms of total mortality," Oz said.

"Any life is a life lost, but … to get every child back into a school where they're safely being educated, being fed and making the most out of their lives with a theoretical risk on the backside, that might be a trade-off some folks would consider."

Dr Phil alleged the lockdown would kill more people than the virus. Picture: supplied
Dr Phil alleged the lockdown would kill more people than the virus. Picture: supplied

He soon found out that his suggestion was unpopular and he apologised for upsetting people.

And then Oprah, who was innocently living her best life, got sucked into the drama.

"It's almost like Oprah's major contributions to medical discourse are a total disaster," tweeted American journalist Jonah Goldberg.

Actor Seth MacFarlane has also called out Oprah, tweeting: "Oprah has done some wonderfully altruistic things with her career, but the use of her platform to amplify the voices of dubious characters rather than legitimate scientists has been a disservice. I hope she will lend her own powerful voice to correct it."

If you think the suggestion that Oprah is responsible 20 years after introducing viewers to Oz and McGraw is a bit of a stretch, you're not alone.

Dr Oz was criticised for saying schools should reopen due to the proven low death toll in children. Picture: Jeremy Piper
Dr Oz was criticised for saying schools should reopen due to the proven low death toll in children. Picture: Jeremy Piper

I'm not going to comment on McGraw or Oz's takes; I'm not any sort of expert or doctor. But I can confidently say Oprah is not responsible for them in 2020, because why on earth would she be?

Some people called on her to speak up and explain herself; asking her to be accountable for why she gave these men some exposure decades ago.

But this is what's being overlooked in the Twitter outrage: just because Oprah gave these guys some of their television audience, doesn't mean she's responsible for anything they've done which hasn't been in her control since then.

Oh, and also, Oprah is not their mum.

Further, the proposal that Oprah should apologise for Oz and McGraw - these people don't know Oprah at all.

The media mogul knows that she doesn't need to explain herself, nor does she deserve the blame for, the attitudes of two men she's not associated with.

She's Oprah, after all.

Nama Winston is a columnist for Rendezview.com.au

Originally published as Don't blame Oprah for Dr Oz and Dr Phil's COVID comments


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