Variety: TV Doctors Like Dr. Oz, Dr. Phil Hand Out Bad Medicine (Column)

Ana

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Analysis: TV physician, heal thyself! Celebrity doctors should defer to medical correspondents in the midst of pandemic

Some TV doctors seem to be ignoring the real-world Hippocratic oath.

In recent weeks, a trio of popular dispensers of lifestyle advice – Drew Pinsky, Mehmet Oz and Phil McGraw – have appeared on media outlets or via digital video downplaying the threat of the coronavirus pandemic, with remarks that undermine their credibility and urge people to take steps that could cause harm.

“This is quite appalling,” says Mark Feldstein, chair of broadcast journalism at the University of Maryland. “These folks are celebrity entertainers, not infectious disease scientists. They’re outside their area of expertise, and frankly don’t know what they’re talking about here.”

Medical correspondents are a regular staple of any national TV-news outlet’s line-up, but Pinsky, Oz and McGraw are not that.

with TV doctors like Oz, Pinsky and Phil McGraw, is that their credentials have more to do with their performance as TV hosts than with their knowledge as medical professionals.”

He added: “I don’t remember Judge Judy being a regular network guest during the impeachment trial, so I’m not sure why Drew, Phil or Oz would be go-to experts on Covid-19.”

At the same time, Oz and McGraw are at the center of substantial businesses operated by some of the nation’s biggest companies. They may not be the most credible physicians when it comes to dissecting a pandemic, but they certainly seem to be. Oz’s “Dr. Oz Show” is distributed by Sony Pictures Television and seen often on TV stations owned by Fox Corporation. McGraw’s “Dr. Phil” is a cornerstone of the syndicated offerings from ViacomCBS.

No amount of TV exposure, however, is equal to knowledge of the nuances of a global disaster. There’s no cure for coronavirus at present, but the obvious prescription for some of the popular TV doctors is this: Make a referral to a more experienced colleague.

 
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