We live in an age of Mad Libs news, but this is one might be the most leftfield story of 2021: Dr. Oz is running for Senate. As a Republican. The surgeon-turned-TV star recently quit his extremely successful daytime show to become a Trumpist politician, to the bafflement of many, including the hosts of The View. It hasn’t been going so hot. He even badly flubbed an abortion question on Fox News.
But what of the person who made him a household name? What of Oprah Winfrey, who regularly brought him on as a health expert on her own old daytime talk show? So far, she’s remained shtum. But a couple days before the year ended, Winfrey broke her silence — or at least gave a canned and kind of awkward statement to her spokesperson, who gave it to a journalist.
A new profile of Dr. Mehmet Oz in New York (as caught by The Daily Beast) looks at both his back story and his unexpected, possibly doomed new life choice. Oprah is all over it, but she only makes an actual appearance very, very briefly. When reporter Olivia Nuzzi reached out to Winfrey, asking for an interview, she was turned down. Instead, Oprah let her spokesperson, Nicole Nichols, pass along her response.
Here is Nichols’ response, containing Winfrey’s response, in full:
“I have one statement for you from Ms. Winfrey. No other comments: ‘One of the great things about our democracy is that every citizen can decide to run for public office. Mehmet Oz has made that decision. And now it’s up to the residents of Pennsylvania to decide who will represent them.’ —Oprah Winfrey.”
Not exactly a glowing recommendation! There’s not much there, though read between the stiff lines and you can spot a rift. She clearly doesn’t want to burn the man whose name she made, but she also probably doesn’t want to fully endorse someone who one could argue is cynically courting a new kind of Republican voter. And so Dr. Oz has received the kind of quote you don’t put in a campaign ad.