by Ailan Evans
While Republican Pennsylvania Senate candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz has billed himself as a staunch opponent of big corporations, his ties to major technology and pharmaceutical corporations complicate his campaign rhetoric.
Oz, who announced his candidacy in late November, is running for the empty Senate seat left by retiring Republican Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey. The celebrity doctor has made opposition to major technology and pharmaceutical companies a hallmark of his campaign, pitching his experience working in television and exposing scams as an example of his anti-corporate positions.
“I’ve taken on Big Government, Big Tech, Big Pharma, Big Ag chemical companies on the show 13 years running, being a porcupine when I needed to be,” Oz said in an interview Saturday with Newsmax.
The comments echo previous remarks made in tweets and merchandising efforts, with Oz promoting his campaign through a tweet that read: “Want a Senator who will stand up to the Washington establishment and Big Tech? Show your support and get your Dr. OZ merch here.”
Yet while Oz’s messaging has frequently invoked his opposition to Big Tech and Big Pharma, the celebrity doctor has been linked to major technology and pharmaceutical companies.
Oz Media, the production company behind The Dr. Oz Show, reportedly had deals with pharmaceutical giants Bayer, Novartis and Aventis, according to a screenshot of corporate clients obtained by The Huffington Post.
The deals were arranged through tech and entertainment giant Sony and involved integrating the Novartis and Bayer brands into The Dr. Oz Show, according to a person familiar with the matter. Oz himself was never directly paid by the pharmaceutical companies.
The Dr. Oz Show also had a lucrative sponsorship deal with wellness company Usana Health Services, which reportedly netted the show earnings in the tens of millions, according to a review of public records by Politico. Usana primarily sells its products in China, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
Oz also earned $1.5 million from pharmaceutical sponsorships in five months between 2013 and 2014, according to a ProPublica review.
Oz’s campaign spokeswoman Brittany Yanick pushed back on the implication that the candidate’s work with major technology and pharmaceutical companies undercut his campaign rhetoric, pointing to primary opponent and hedge fund manager David McMormick’s relationship with Chinese business interests.
“Beijing’s favorite candidate David McCormick outsourced PA jobs to Asia, he made millions investing in China in partnership with the CCP, and he gave speeches in China about his desire for China to succeed,” Yannick said.
“Unlike David McCormick, Dr. Oz has taken on big pharma, agrochem, big tech, and the government on many occasions throughout his career, and he will take those experiences to fight for Pennsylvanians in the U.S. Senate,” she added.
Oz has also billed himself as an opponent of China, criticizing McMormick’s ties to China in a campaign ad which calls the hedge fund manager “China’s friend, not ours.”
The celebrity doctor has himself frequently done business in China; in addition to his financial relationship with Usana, Oz has also promoted major Chinese technology companies including Weibo and WeChat, and distributed his show on Chinese entertainment platforms.
According to a 2018 tweet, Oz had launched WeChat and Weibo accounts.
“Aofei Media will be distributing new episodes of my show beginning 12/25 on digital platforms including Youku, Tencent Penguin, iQiyi, Sohu Video & Sina Weibo,” Oz wrote. “Tune in!”
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