Scolded by senators. Dr. Mehmet Oz was chastised by members of the U.S. Senate on Tuesday, June 17, during a hearing about falsely advertised diet products. Seated before a panel including Sen. Claire McCaskill, Oz was berated for exaggerating the beneficial effects of certain products on his program.
"I get that you do a lot of good on your show," said McCaskill, the Democratic chair of the Senate's subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety and Insurance. "I understand that you give a lot of information that's great about health—and you do it in a way that's easily understandable."
However, McCaskill then went on to cite several examples of Oz sensationalizing products on his show, including a green coffee bean extract which he touted on his show in May 2012.
"I don't get why you need to say this stuff, because you know it's not true," she said. "So why, when you have this amazing megaphone," she asked incredulously, "why would you cheapen your show by saying things like that?"
McCaskill explained what happens to viewers who fall for diet scams—and Oz's role in perpetuating the issue. "When you feature a product on your show," she said, "it creates what has become known as the 'Dr. Oz Effect'"—described as "dramatically boosting sales and driving scam artists to pop up overnight using false and deceptive ads to sell questionable products."
Oz, 54, responding to the chiding, admitted his use of "flowery" language on his show. Still, said the star, "to be clear, I have never sold supplements. My job on the show is to be a cheerleader for the audience." He went on to say he tries not only to inform viewers, but also to engage them, which involves being passionate about the topics he touts. "When we write a script, we need to generate enthusiasm and engage the viewer," said Oz.
"I actually do personally believe in the items I talk about on the show," he continued. "I recognize that oftentimes they don’t have the scientific muster to pass as fact. I have given my family these products."
Ultimately, Oz said he agreed to testify at the hearing because he wanted to join lawmakers' efforts to keep advertiser's accountable. "I strongly support the need to look at whether the products are safe or not."