Has Trump Finally Gone Too Far?

Republicans are aghast that he's abandoned his principles.

A mildly amusing piece at The Daily Beast overnight (“Trumpworld Goes Into Meltdown After Trump Endorses Dr. Oz“):

Late Saturday evening, former President Donald Trump officially endorsed his old TV pal Dr. Mehmet Oz in the raucous Republican U.S. Senate primary race in Pennsylvania.

In doing so, Trump, while speaking at a rally in North Carolina, ignited fury and ridicule among some of the loudest voices in Trumpworld.

At issue among Trump’s most fervent supporters is the belief that Oz, a Turkish-American TV physician who has hobnobbed with Hollywood’s elite and has flip-flopped on the issue of abortion, isn’t a trustworthy “America First” Republican candidate, compared to fellow candidate Dave McCormick, who has ex-Trump administration official Hope Hicks by his side. (Another Trumpworld stalwart, Stephen Miller, stopped all involvement and employment with the McCormick campaign after Trump’s Oz endorsement, a source with direct knowledge of the matter told The Daily Beast after this story was published.)

“I have enormous respect for President Trump. I was honored to have his endorsement in PA. Twice,” Sean Parnell, the former Trump-backed candidate, who dropped out of the race after an abuse allegation surfaced from his estranged ex-wife, wrote on Twitter. “But I’m disappointed by this. Oz is the antithesis of everything that made Trump the best president of my lifetime.”

The infighting only intensified as more conservative commentators and politicos lined up to take shots at Trump’s endorsement.

“It’s like Donald Trump’s staff is sabotaging Trump by convincing him to make the worst possible endorsements,” conservative radio host Erick Erickson tweeted.

“This endorsement could divide MAGA in the only way that matters: he could lose America First conservatives over it,” Breitbart News’ Joel Pollak wrote.

Elsewhere, Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL), who is running for the Senate and who has split with Trump in recent over back-and-forth accusations of election interference, chalked up the Oz endorsement to weak-kneed staffers the ex-president has enlisted.

“This is happening because Trump’s surrounded himself by staff who are on McConnell’s payroll & hostile to the MAGA agenda. Everybody telling Trump who to endorse in primaries works for The Swamp,” said Brooks, whose Trump endorsement was recently rescinded. “They played him. Again.”

But Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) didn’t immediately jump in on backing Oz during an interview with Fox News Sunday, stating, “I think we’re in a good position to win that race regardless of who the nominee is.”

Longtime Republican operative Roger Stone couldn’t help joining the pile-on either, writing on Telegram, “Wait? President [Trump] endorsed this guy?” while attaching a photo of the doctor, who rose to infamy after years of hosting a daytime television show with guests like Michelle Obama.

Lesser-known pro-Trump media personalities also stepped into the fold, including Townhall columnist Kurt Schlichter, who wrote: “It’s pretty hard for me to fully express how disappointed in Trump I am for endorsing Oz.”

Years of corruption in and out of office, two impeachments, a disastrous handling of the pandemic, and managing to lose an election to Sleepy Joe Biden and then trying to stage a self-coup didn’t do the trick but endorsing a guy most famous for being a TV grifter for Senate is the wakeup call? Huh.

This is pretty on-brand for Trump, no?

See, for example, this New Republic report from September 2016 (“Dr. Oz and Donald Trump Are America’s Greatest Frauds“):

Donald Trump and Dr. Mehmet Oz have a lot in common. They’re both hucksters selling dangerous snake oils to the American public, obvious frauds who have yet to be cast out of normal society thanks to the mainstream frameworks in which they operate: for Trump, the political arena; for Oz, the medical establishment. And they prize showmanship and bombast over the truth. Oz, for instance, has been repeatedly and justly attacked for pushing green coffee bean extract as “a magic weight loss cure for every body type,” which it isn’t; as The Daily Beast has noted, Oz has a penchant for diet scams. He’s advocated at length for homeopathy, which does not work. He’s argued that GMOs are unsafe. And in December, the British medical journal BMJ found that there was no scientific evidence to support half of the claims made on his show. Trump’s tortured relationship with facts, meanwhile, is old hat by now.

But the thing that Oz and Trump have most in common is their shared affinity for easy answers to complex problems. Trump, who promised ”I alone can fix it” at the Republican National Convention in July, has promised instant solutions to a number of intractable problems: His secret plan to defeat ISIS will destroy them immediately; the wall will stop illegal immigration; jobs will return from China and Mexico the moment he enters the Oval Office. In recent years, Oz has been dinged repeatedly for his reliance on pushing “magical” or “miracle” pills on his show for problems like obesity and poor skin. These pills don’t work, and two years ago Oz was forced to admit to Congress that these solutions “don’t have the scientific muster.”

Oz has deflected criticism of his practices by arguing that he is an entertainer, not a doctor. He’s said that his show is “not a medical show,” a claim he supported by telling NBC News that the “Oz” in his logo is much bigger than the “Dr.” And he’s also argued that he is the victim of a smear campaign brought by jealous doctors who want to violate his constitutional rights. After ten doctors wrote an open letter to Columbia University asking that Oz be stripped of his faculty position, he said, “No matter our disagreements, freedom of speech is the most fundamental right we have as Americans, and these ten doctors are trying to silence that right.”

Trump similarly presents himself as a free-speech defender who refuses to be silenced by the forces of political correctness. He believes he should be allowed to say whatever he wants, without any consequences—except, apparently, when he appears on pseudo-medical daytime TV talk show. That requires subtlety and insidiousness.

Trump’s appearance on The Dr. Oz Show, which was taped on Wednesday, could not have been more perfectly timed. Though it was booked before Hillary Clinton’s pneumonia-related fainting spell on Sunday, Trump made sure to capitalize on his fortune by playing coy for days about his own medical records. He promised to provide more information, then said he wouldn’t, and finally brought two pages’ worth onto the show (the same day, incidentally, that a poll revealed nearly half of voters think Clinton’s health could hurt her ability to serve). By submitting to this pseudo-checkup from Dr. Mehmet Oz, Trump was able to drive a false narrative that had emerged from the fever swamps of the alt-right—Hillary’s allegedly bad health—still further into the mainstream.

Or this Frank Bruni column from April 2020 (“The Unholy Alliance of Trump and Dr. Oz“):

Of course President Trump is getting advice about the pandemic from Mehmet Oz, and of course Dr. Oz is eager to provide it. They’re a match made in ratings-obsessed heaven.

Oz, mind you, is not a virologist. Not an epidemiologist. His actual specialty — cardiothoracic surgery — isn’t the most immediately relevant to the coronavirus. But his real specialty is using medicine as a means to maximum public exposure. He wasn’t about to let this dark chapter go to waste.

Over recent weeks he has made a blizzard of appearances on Fox News, giving interviews to hosts not exactly known for the dissemination of responsible information. I mean Sean Hannity, Lou Dobbs, the Trump-besotted pep squad on “Fox & Friends.”

And part of what the good doctor has done on these showcases is promote the anti-malarial treatment hydroxychloroquine as a potential wonder drug for Covid-19. An article by CNN Business’s Oliver Darcy and Kevin Liptak on Tuesday said that these plugs had piqued the president’s interest in the treatment, which he frequently mentions — rather, moons over — at his daily coronavirus news conferences. And The Times has reported that Oz also pitched hydroxychloroquine in conversations with members of the Trump administration.

I’ve neither the space here nor the science-reporting expertise to examine fully the arguments for and against hydroxychloroquine. But there remain more questions about it than answers, and its diverse boosters — including Rudy Giuliani, who has always been my go-to guru on all matters health-related — glide blithely over inconvenient facts about it.

Oz did precisely that on Hannity’s show, as The Atlantic’s James Hamblin pointedly explained in an excellent article about the treatment. Oz mischaracterized a French doctor’s study of it in order to gush over it and seemingly didn’t take into account that doctor’s reputation as “a pan-disciplinary provocateur” who has “questioned climate change and Darwinian evolution,” Hamblin wrote.


During the 2016 presidential campaign, Oz welcomed Trump to his television show and let him prattle on about what glorious physical shape he was supposedly in. The following year, the AMA Journal of Ethics published an article about Oz by three scientists at the Mayo Clinic who asked, “Should a physician be allowed to say anything — however inaccurate and potentially harmful — so long as that individual commands market share?”

Change “physician” to “politician” and the question pertains just as tidily — and just as sadly — to Trump.

There are problems with comparing Oz and Trump, chiefly that Oz has an extensive and distinguished background in medicine, while Trump had nothing of the kind in politics. I have qualms with Oz’s ethics, but I can’t say that he’s anywhere near as morally unmoored as the president.

Even so, Oz is to medicine what Trump is to politics: someone who has bent the discipline to the dictates of entertainment in pursuit of ever more celebrity, ever more power, and has warped and cheapened it in the process.

So when you hear him cheerleading for a supposed coronavirus cure, ask yourself what you do when Trump raises his own pom-poms: Is he engaged in meaningful public education, or does he just realize that magic and miracles draw more eyeballs than dutiful analyses of pros, cons and incomplete data?

If you listen skeptically, you’ll have your answer.

I mean, how could Trump not endorse this guy? Indeed, Oz would be a perfect running mate in 2024.

FILED UNDER: 2022 Election, Climate Change, Humor, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Kylopod says:

    I can’t believe that in this long post, nowhere is mentioned the elephant in the room, which I believe to be the true reason they aren’t thrilled about Dr. Oz: he’s a Muslim.

  2. James Joyner says:

    @Kylopod: But he’s one of the good ones! (Actually, it appears that, while his father was Muslim, his mother was a secularist and he himself is a New Age type.)

  3. Sleeping Dog says:

    Republicans are aghast that he’s abandoned his principles.

    What principles?

  4. Kathy says:

    I’m sure Benito is true to whatever he uses for principles. here either Oz kissed the orange butt more strongly than the other guy, or Benito thinks he can deliver him a trifecta of heart, brain, and courage.

  5. Kylopod says:

    @James Joyner: I think that Muslims, like trans people, are a group that most Republicans have not reached the point of being willing to tokenize, since they think of them—and this continues to be a pervasive message on right-wing media—as inherently defective people, no exceptions.

  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Republicans are aghast that he’s abandoned his principles.

    Having abandoned every principle they ever professed the moment trump won the 2016 nomination, I doubt very much there is a Republican left that could recognize a principle if ever they encountered one in the wild.

  7. DK says:

    @Sleeping Dog: Not being under FBI investigation for mishandling classified materials, as Drama Queen Donnie currently is?

  8. Scott says:

    I’m sure it has already happened but I’m waiting for the inevitable response: “The MSM is talking about this just to distract from Hunter and Joe Biden’s corruption.”

  9. KM says:

    Republicans are aghast that he’s abandoned the message.

    Now, what message that might be may very but most account, Oz fails the alt-right sniff test. Non-white, non-In Your Face Fundie Xtian, willing worked with liberals for years, was vocally pro-choice for some time, conspiracy-minded but not the flavor of the month kind, etc. He’s very much a Trump clone in behavior, ability to mesmerize a crowd with BS and griftiness but that doesn’t mean jack when the brand requires certain traits.

    Trump picked him because Trump saw someone similar to himself willing to kiss ass for gain. The MAGAts hate him because they *don’t* see him as similar enough to Trump, an indication they’ve already moved him to mythic figurehead rather than real person.

  10. CSK says:

    The real reason I think Trump likes Oz is that he’s a television celebrity, just like Trump.

  11. MarkedMan says:

    I’ve said from the beginning that Trump’s power has been exaggerated. He is a con artist who rode a wave, but the real power is the Republican electorate. They want craziness and racism and bigotry and we’re happy to exalt Trump as a leader when he was enthusiastically willing to go farther than anyone else to give them what they want. But he never led the electorate, they led him, and he can easily be replaced.

    The real difference is there are nearly a dozen people now willing to go as far as Trump in promoting the things the electorate wants. Ron Desantis literally encouraged the deaths of tens of thousands of his constituents because it scored big points with the trumpers. Gaetz, Haley, Greene, Boebert, there is a sizable list.

  12. Kylopod says:


    The real reason I think Trump likes Oz is that he’s a television celebrity, just like Trump.

    Agreed. He practically admitted it the other day: “When you’re in television for 18 years, that’s like a poll, that means people like you.”

    Of course this is a ridiculous statement that equates liking someone as a TV personality with supporting them for office. And it’s not as if Trump is going around applying the same logic to Oprah or Bill Nye or any of the innumerable other successful TV hosts who have not kissed the orange ass. But there’s a kernel of truth in what he says: celebrities who enter politics tend to overperform, regardless of their lack of traditional qualifications.

  13. Jen says:

    “…who has hobnobbed with Hollywood’s elite and has flip-flopped on the issue of abortion,…”

    Ummmmm. Okay.

    Who wants to tell them?

  14. CSK says:

    Back in 1999, Trump wanted Oprah Winfrey to be his running mate. He said she’d be his first choice for vice president.

    He reminds me of some of my former students. If it’s not on television, it’s not real.

  15. steve says:

    I told the wife that Oz would get Trump’s endorsement and probably be our R senate nominee. He is just too awful for the GOP to not choose him. She poo-pooed the idea. I am now closer to being right. Of course winning an argument with the wife means I lose in the long run but I have to take these little victories when I get them.


  16. gVOR08 says:

    @James Joyner:

    When you’re a Jet
    You’re a Jet all the way
    From your first cigarette
    To your last dyin’ day…

    For the MAGAts being Christian or Muslim is a tribal thing, not a belief thing. They regard me as a Christian. I was born in a Christian family in ‘Murica, ergo I’m a Christian, whether I like it or not. Somebody named Mehmet Cengiz Oz is Muslim as surely as Barack Hussein Obama was.

  17. CSK says:

    Interestingly, only one commenter out of thirty-one over at Lucianne.com, home of the MAGAs, objected to the fact that Oz is an alleged Muslim. Most of them are unhappy that Trump is backing another Commie RINO liberal, and lamenting the fact that Trump makes such poor personnel choices.

  18. Kathy says:

    The question now is whether Benito will double down on his endorsement, because, you know, he has never made a mistake ever, or whether he will back away from it because people aren’t cheering him like they used to.

  19. Kylopod says:

    @Kathy: IOW, Oz is the new vaccine.

  20. CSK says:

    I like the headline in Rolling Stone:

    Fraud Endorses Quack

  21. KM says:

    Agree with the tribalism but not so much it’s “Muslim-ness” that’s marking him as Other. Frankly, Trump fit in with a lot of MAGAt crowd not only because he looks like them but sounds and acts like them too. He wears nearly every tribal marker they value proudly and knows how to fake what he doesn’t. He’s the crazy uncle ranting about right wing nonsense at family dinners, the friend who swears they coulda been a contender if the world didn’t screw them, the former HS football player reveling in irrelevant past glory like it entitles him to kingship.

    Trump sounds like rolled out of gathering of Florida Men – Oz doesn’t and sounds like an elitist egghead to them. Trump swaggers about like a used car salesman – Oz had to polish his scam image for a different audience. Trump speaks Fundie and TrailerPark and Alt-right fluently as a native – Oz is still mastering them as a second language. Still too Hollywood, still too smart, still too inclined to dogwhistling instead of blurting things out like they want.

  22. Lounsbury says:

    @KM: Oz is “non-white”?

    America, so profoundly colour bizarre….

  23. Kylopod says:

    @Lounsbury: What would constitute “color-normal”?

  24. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Lounsbury: “Not white” shifts to match the circumstances. Ultimately, it means not like “me”–in some tangible way, or intangible as required. Reread whatever you have on constructed reality and you’ll be able to grok it better. But today? Yes, Oz is “not white,” even if he looks white to you. You just don’t know.

  25. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: @Lounsbury: And don’t be so snooty about it. Brits are capable of the same thinking. Everybody is, in fact.

  26. Kylopod says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: I’m guessing it’s a mixture of the fact that Turkey is partly in Asia (though so is Russia, of course) and that it’s Muslim-majority.

  27. KM says:

    Oh honey, there are places in America you can be fish belly pale and not be “white” to the locals. Since it’s a social category as much as a racial one, “white” is a category that has a billion conditions that can disqualify you. I know someone who refuses to accept Afrikaners in South Africa as “white” since they live in the African continent, history of apartheid be damned.

    Think “class” in Britain – it’s not just an economic or social status but a historical, racial, ethic, religious and political one. What you are matters just as much as who and where you came from for something Americans would tell you is a function of your bank account and not much more.

  28. Sleeping Dog says:


    Yeah, at various times the Irish, Italian, Greeks, Latinos, eastern Europeans, Indigenous persons and of course Jews have been or are currently considered non-white. It also can exist on both ends of the political spectrum. The most obvious are white supremacists on the right and on the left, there are those progressives that lump Caucasian Hispanics in with persons of color.

  29. Mu Yixiao says:


    It works in other directions, too. There are, for example, blacks who will say someone isn’t “truly black” because of mixed heritage, social standing, behaviors, speech, etc.

  30. Kylopod says:

    @Sleeping Dog: There was one element to the recent Whoopi controversy that got surprisingly little attention: she didn’t just claim that Jews are white, she said the same about Roma. From the original exchange that started the kerfuffle:

    “But it’s about white supremacy,” responded co-host Ana Navarro. “It’s about going after Jews and Gypsies and Roma.”

    “But these are two white groups of people,” countered Goldberg.

    Roma, let’s remember, trace their ancestry to India. In Europe to this day, they are still often seen as nonwhite.

  31. Sleeping Dog says:


    Actually, I believe that @KM: summed up what it means to be non-white in America.

    Regarding Whoopi. That she assumed the Roma are white, indicates that she was unaware of the history of the Roma. I wouldn’t hold that against her, as the fact that they emerged from India wouldn’t be something that is top of mind for me either.

  32. grumpy realist says:

    All of this “white/non-white” really just boils down to “the in people” and “the out people”.

    I suspect the bulk of “White Identity” proponents are total losers in the rest of their lives and are desperately jumping on a “skin colour” discrepancy as a way to put themselves in the “in group”. Of course, these are the same sort of people who 140 years ago would have been squalling about “them dirty Irish”.

  33. Kylopod says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    That she assumed the Roma are white, indicates that she was unaware of the history of the Roma. I wouldn’t hold that against her

    What would you hold against her? Wasn’t the entire controversy centered on something she was unaware of (that the Nazis considered Jews a separate race)? Don’t people have some responsibility to know about what they’re commenting on, and if they don’t, to avoid commenting on it until they’re better informed?

  34. Sleeping Dog says:


    My reference was strictly regarding the Roma. But in truth, I felt the whole Whoopi controversy was blown up out of proportion. She was guilty of being ignorant and myopic. In a world where there are a growing number of Holocaust deniers and anti-Semites, being stupid is a lesser offense.

  35. DK says:


    Trump sounds like rolled out of gathering of Florida Men – Oz doesn’t and sounds like an elitist egghead to them. Trump swaggers about like a used car salesman – Oz had to polish his scam image for a different audience.

    QFT. Also, importantly, Oz is insufficiently forced birth. Unlike Trump, who in 2016 floated punishing women who terminate pregnancies.

  36. CSK says:

    Ah, yes, I remember it well. In the course of one afternoon–between lunch and the cocktail hour–Trump went from saying that women should be punished, then that doctors who performed abortions should be punished, to “oh, well, never mind.”

    I wonder how many unwanted pregnancies he sired, and how many abortions his daddy Fred paid to have done.

  37. Kylopod says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    But in truth, I felt the whole Whoopi controversy was blown up out of proportion.

    It may have been–but the consequences can’t exactly be called dire when she still has her job and it started an informative conversation about why the Holocaust is considered so paramount an event, with ramifications in the present day. That aside, if you’re going to complain about her being (temporarily) canceled for voicing a stupid and uninformed opinion (and hardly her first one as co-host of this show), the question must arise why she was given this job in the first place, based on the sole qualification of being a popular and acclaimed actress.

    In a world where there are a growing number of Holocaust deniers and anti-Semites, being stupid is a lesser offense.

    The problem is that the latter can feed into the former.

  38. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Lounsbury: Once again your inherent intelligence runs up against your ignorance of so many things outside your very limited area of expertise and comes up wanting. A little bit of humility goes a long way.

  39. Just nutha ignint cracker says:


    Don’t people have some responsibility to know about what they’re commenting on, and if they don’t, to avoid commenting on it until they’re better informed?

    In America? On daytime TV? Really?

    (But yes, at least theoretically and in a better world than the one I live in.)

  40. dazedandconfused says:

    A year ago I doubt this would’ve been even mentioned by The Faithful. An awareness, perhaps mostly subliminal, that Trump’s a loser grows. The start of the search for heresy in Him has begun.

  41. steve says:

    Actually this has come up before with some of his nominees but the faithful have it covered. Trump cannot fail but he can be failed. They will just blame his advisors and claim that Trump didnt really know the truth about the person he chose and if he did he would not have chosen them. Remember that cults always have ready made explanations for everything.


  42. Lounsbury says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: @OzarkHillbilly:
    There is no ignorance, only semi-amused contempt for the linguistic idiocy of Americans – Left and Right – around ethnicity and your utterly impoverished language and own comprehension (and on the Left the woker than thouness around identity of “non-white”).

    Oz is certainly non White Anglo Protestant, and indeed non-Christian regardless of whether he is practicising Muslim or simply an ‘ethnic Muslim’ in the same fashion as an ethnic Jew.

    The arch pretence and linguistic poverty of calling him non-White however is painfully stupid in application to a person of a northern Mediterranean phenotype, physically indistinguishable from a fellow from Milan or Venice.

    It’s at once insulting to Muslims to apply willy nilly the label non-white and stupidly handing a Gotcha to the Christian supremacists on the right who you are ‘thinking for’ in your bumbling rhetorical “here’s what they [righties] really think”. And as he’s so very evidetly not a non-white phenotype, you bumblers merely give them a rhetorical grip to flip around on you. I observe this as I have literally seen this happen in person with some prejudiced American slobbo and some pious Lefty twit who used exactly this language (a most unpleasant scene overall).

    Oz’s ‘problem” is not racial, it is ethno-religious, that he is Muslim, not skin colour. And the people who have the problem are Christian supremacists. Not a colour issue but an ethno-religious one, and regardless of American history of impoverished and stupid colour based language here, you’d be better served with better labels rather than bumbling around using a bad one that is easily turned around.

  43. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Lounsbury: I would beg to differ. Oz’s problem is that the MAGAts don’t like him–without regard to ethno-religiosity–which doesn’t seem to have been listed as a disqualifier. (Nor was any other specific; ” isn’t a trustworthy “America First” Republican candidate” was the specific, but unsupported, objection.) But your little tantrum was entertaining, so thank you for the chuckle. I hope it boosted your self-esteem enough to power through your day as a MOU.

    (ETA: And we already KNOW that you have all the best words–at least the ones FG lacks. Lord knows you’ve blathered on about it enough.)

  44. Liberal Capitalist says:

    You know that Trump hand no choice but to endorse Oz.

    Grift respects Grift.

    But to his benefit: Trump knows that Oz will be… malleable.

  45. CSK says:

    Well, Trump has yet another reason for liking Oz, in addition to the fact that OZ is a fellow tv celebrity. It turns out that Melania is a biiiiig fan of Oz.

    Trump better watch it. Oz is 14 years younger and considerably better-looking than Donald–although really, who isn’t?

  46. Kylopod says:


    The arch pretence and linguistic poverty of calling him non-White however is painfully stupid in application to a person of a northern Mediterranean phenotype

    Anyone who treats “white” as an objective scientific category shouldn’t be the one to cast stones.