Since the advent of the coronavirus pandemic, the conservative network has welcomed Dr. Mehmet Oz, Dr. Drew Pinsky and Dr. Phil McGraw into its programs.
While the three household names were all successful on daytime television, each has already been the subject of serious criticism from health care professionals. Furthermore, none of them is an expert in infectious diseases.
And yet Oz, McGraw and Pinsky all appeared on Fox News, making comments that support the network’s editorial view, but go against what health officials have said about the coronavirus.
Neither Oz, McGraw, nor Pinsky are on the Fox News payroll. The network has a pool of paid medical contributors, including Dr. Marc Siegel, Dr. Martin Makary and Dr. Janette Nesheiwat, whom he regularly uses to discuss the virus.
But Oz, McGraw and Pinsky are household names, giving what they say and advice that they give much more weight. And everyone’s comments on Fox News supported the message that the network was promoting at one point or another.
A Fox News spokesperson declined to comment on the story. But the three doctors returned to the controversial comments they made when they appeared on the network.
Oz, the famous cardiac surgeon, has become a staple of Fox News in recent weeks, although he is not officially employed by the network.
During his appearances, he made comments that prompted close scrutiny. This week, he suffered a backlash for comments he made Tuesday in Sean Hannity’s Fox News show.
While Hannity, arguably Trump’s main supporter on cable television, discussed how to end the closure and get the Americans back to work, Oz came up with an idea.
Reopening schools across the country could be “a mouthwatering opportunity.” He quoted an article in a medical journal which said that “it could only cost us 2 to 3% in terms of total mortality”.
“We need to get our mojo back,” Oz told Hannity, saying that reopening the schools “with the theoretical risk behind” could “be a compromise that some would consider.”
“I realized that my comments about the risks around schools have confused and upset people, which was never my intention,” said Oz.
Oz said he was “constantly asked” how to “bring people back to their normal lives.” He said he would continue to explore different approaches to “defeat this virus”.
But these are not Oz’s only comments on Fox that have drawn criticism.
He caught Trump’s attention for talking about the potential effectiveness of the antimalarial hydroxychloroquine as a way to treat the new coronavirus – despite the lack of solid scientific evidence that it is an effective treatment .
Oz himself even acknowledged the lack of evidence from clinical trials proving if hydroxychloroquine is effective against the coronavirus.
“There is no doubt that it is not proven to be beneficial in the large clinical trials that we expect in America, certainly that the FDA and medical companies would like,” Oz recognized earlier this month on Fox. News. “But these have been supported by case studies. “
In fact, at the time of his comments, studies in humans had presented conflicting conclusions. This week, however, a French study found that hydroxychloroquine does not help patients with the virus.
Oz, who advocates alternative medicines and treatments, has been biased by the medical community for years. In 2015, a group of doctors wrote to Columbia University, saying they were “dismayed,” that Oz was a member of the school’s faculty. And in 2014, Oz was scolded by senators during a congressional hearing on his promotion of weight loss products on his television show.
Each time, he defended himself. In 2015, Oz said he provided the public with “information that will help them on their way to being their best selves,” would provide “multiple perspectives,” and argued that “sometimes did not” fit “certain agendas. that distorted the facts. “
McGraw is not a doctor; he holds a doctorate in clinical psychology, but is not licensed to practice.
Thursday night he appeared on Laura Ingraham’s Fox News show where he appeared to be critical of the decision.
“The economy is collapsing around us and they are doing it because people are dying from the coronavirus,” said McGraw. “I understand, but look, the fact is that we have people dying – 45,000 people die each year from traffic accidents, 480,000 from cigarettes, 360,000 from swimming pools – but we are not closing the country for that. »»
“But yet,” he added, “we do it for that and the fallout will last for years because people’s lives are destroyed.”
McGraw faced a series of brutal criticism for his comments, his name being on Twitter Friday morning.
Critics have pointed out that automobile and swimming pool accidents are not contagious causes of death.
Also, his comments on the pools were extremely inaccurate. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were 3,536 involuntary drownings in the United States from 2005 to 2014 – not the 360,000 per year, as McGraw said.
In a video posted online Friday afternoon, McGraw apologized and admitted his mistakes.
“Last night, I said that as a society, we chose to live with certain fatal risks that can be controlled every day: smoking, car accidents, swimming. And yes, I know these are not contagious, “said McGraw. “So probably bad examples. Probably bad examples. “
“And by the way, I did not speak well of the drowning deaths,” added McGraw. “I quoted a world number, not an American number.”
McGraw said he wanted people to follow the recommendations of public health experts and heads of government, and said he thought the country was right to close if that’s what it takes to protect people.
But McGraw said he was concerned about the mental well-being of people when he was trapped in quarantine. He said he “feared that the deterioration in mental and physical health would be substantial” inside for long periods of time.
“If you didn’t like my choice of words, I apologize,” said McGraw. “Know that I am worried about you. This is my number one concern here. If you don’t like my choice of words, hit the word eject button. But never worry, I don’t care for you. “
Pinsky is one of the most famous doctors in America. He is widely known for his syndicated radio show “Loveline” and the reality show “Celebrity Rehab”. He also previously hosted a show on CNN’s sister channel, HLN.
In early March, when asked to give his professional opinion on the coronavirus, he downplayed the threat considerably and instead attacked news organizations that took it seriously.
In appearances on Fox News in early March, Pinsky said the real problem was “due to panic, not the virus.” And, despite data showing a much higher mortality rate for the coronavirus, Pinsky argued that the flu was “much more important.”
“It is a panic caused by the press that will have real consequences,” said Pinsky during a March 2 appearance on the broadcast of Ingraham.
Pinsky has shared a similar message in other television appearances, including channels outside of Fox News. He argued that the press panic was “much worse than the virus”.
At the time, his comments were criticized, but Pinsky followed them. But earlier this month, faced with compelling evidence, Pinsky apologized.