Friday, June 07, 2013

1184 The New Televangelists

1184  The New Televangelists: Mehmet and Drew

“I am the great and powerful Oz.”

That’s a line from the Wizard movie.  But today it has a whole new meaning.  Mehmet Oz, MD is one of the new preacher men.  Another is David Drew Pinsky, MD, “Dr. Drew.”

These guys are all over the TV with a bedside manner becoming someone with a medical degree and the low key all knowing all seeing attitude docs often wear and patients both secretly revile and secretly revere.

They dispense advice and coming from their mouths, many people invest it with the force of commandment.

By all accounts, Oz is a first rate heart surgeon who actually operates one day a week when nothing more important comes along.  Like his daily syndicated TV medicine show.  

Drew is another kind of case.  His specialty is addiction.  But mostly he has a radio show with sex advice, a television show about whatever “big” story HLN is covering and an MTV show purportedly helping addicts.  Recently he announced he was backing out of the MTV deal because too many who appeared on it died soon after and he was “tired of taking all the heat.”

Don’t worry, though.  You can hardly turn on a TV set without seeing him on … well, something.

Oral Roberts may have been a pioneer in TV healing.  But never did he take personal credit for anything resembling a cure for anything.

And his delivery doesn’t cut it when your schtick needs more polish in the never-let-them-see-you-sweat 21st century.

So, well-spoken, well-dressed, well meaning and -- we hope -- well informed talking hairdos practice medicine by remote control.

While they don’t prescribe on the air, they do advocate viewpoints and sometimes potions, some of them homemade, others from common and apparently harmless ingredients.

In the case of these two, Drew has lower potential to do harm than Oz.  First, his actual patients generally are addicts, and most of the rest of us aren’t.  So we aren’t going to run out and do whatever he says.  Second, the sex show is the same kind of advice as Dr. Ruth’s and unlikely to have any lasting side effects.  Third, the HLN show is mostly about the criminal of the day.  Drew may offer some psychological insight.  But it affects no one.

Oz is another story.

He frames his ideas in terms of war... the war between normal medicine and the witchcraft/voodoo/faith healer/homeopathic nether world of “alternative medicine.”

Juice “cleansers,” making pizza topping out of roasted cicadas, inhaling the fumes of rosemary to boost memory.  Those three are right off his website.

Maybe someday, the FDA will start testing and regulating stuff like pine bark and arnica, eye of newt and ground rhino horn.

Meantime, Oz and Drew will continue raking in the big bucks, charming the viewers and keeping the faith.

I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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© WJR 2013

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