Among many, Oprah is a revered influencer and prominent voice. While she is loved by many, the science community does not always love her influence. One thing that cannot be argued is that Oprah’s voice has a strong influence over public health knowledge. With her magazine, television, online, and radio programs, she has given a spotlight platform to many people who talk about medical treatments and health advice. Many of the claims made on her show are not derived from science-based evidence. As the public begins to speak of her possible presidential run in 2020, Oprah now faces a new round of criticisms based on her previous promotion and the voices that she has lent promotion to over the years.
Here are a few of the people that Oprah has promoted who are currently under fire once again.
While Oprah claims to have launched the career of Phillip “Dr. Phil” McGraw, a man who has become the highest paid daytime TV personality, this may not always work to her advantage. Over the years, several individuals, both people he has claimed to help, as well as medical professionals, have claimed that he has done more harm than good with his actions and recommendations. Many have claimed that he has used product placement and recommendations to gain financial payoffs and exposure to a new addiction recovery venue that he and his son are involved in.
In 2009, Oprah gave Jenny McCarthy a very prominent platform when she gave her a blog on her website. Jenny McCarthy has stated that her son Evan has Autism. She was a huge proponent of the theory that vaccines are directly linked to autism. In the medical world, this concept is widely rejected and the study that this connection was based on has been discredited while the Dr. who published the study has been discredited as well. Because McCarthy is not a Doctor, yet gives out biomedical advice, her voice on Winfrey’s website has been controversial.
A huge figure in alternative medicine, Chopra appeared on Oprah’s TV show in 1993 and claimed to know the secrets of reversing the process of aging. Among these were reducing stress, changing your environment, and removing toxins from the body. Because these ideas were not based on medical evidence, the validity of his claims have come under questioning.
One of Oprah’s regular longtime guests, Dr. OZ now his own medical TV Empire. While he did graduate from the University of Pennsylvania’s Medical School and taught as a professor in Columbia University’s department of surgery, some believe he has hosted questionable guests on his shows and appearances. In 2014, he was involved in a senate hearing over his green coffee bean extract weight loss “miracle”. A $9 million settlement resulted for those who had purchased the product.
The top-selling book, film, and life approach became so popular mainly because of its exposure on Oprah’s show. Winfrey found herself under fire for giving this platform when an audience member claimed that The Secret had inspired her to cure her own cancer instead of having a medical professional recommend surgery and chemotherapy treatment.
A TV star in her own right, Somers appeared on Oprah’s show in 2009 boasting the secrets to stopping the aging process. Some of her recommendations sounded quite far-fetched, which Oprah did mention. However, she also endorsed Somers ideas saying, “She just might be a pioneer.”
Jeffrey A. Newman represents whistleblowers: 1-800-682-7157