“The last thing conservatives want to hear right now is Dr. Oz giving political advice,” Fox News contributor Joe Concha says
After leaving his syndicated daytime talk show, “The Dr. Oz Show,” and losing his bid for a U.S. Senate seat in Pennsylvania, what’s next for Dr. Mehmet Oz?
The former heart surgeon turned Oprah protégé turned Donald Trump-backed Republican candidate has got a few options — continue his political life with another run for office, restart his medical practice as a cardiothoracic surgeon, go back to being a TV doctor or pivot to some other career in medicine, media or philanthropy.
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But in interviews with pop culture experts, publicists and crisis communications specialists, each path for the 62-year-old comes with its own set of challenges — especially if Oz has any desire to return to a regular TV role, either as a health expert or as a MAGA-friendly political voice.
A rep for Oz did not respond to requests for comment.
One thing that appears to be off the table is relaunching the syndicated daytime show he hosted for 13 years before attempting to replace retiring Republican Sen. Pat Toomey. “I can’t imagine ‘The Dr. Oz Show’ being rebooted at this point,” Robert Thompson, professor of television and popular culture at Syracuse University, told TheWrap.
Ratings on Oz’s show had already started to wane toward the end of his run, and they dropped even further after he began identifying as a Trump-friendly Republican in 2020 ahead of announcing his Senate run. His show went from averaging 1.63 million viewers in April 2020 to just 788,000 viewers in November 2021.
But he remains a recognizable face in a competitive small-screen landscape. “TV is still available to him. This is someone who has built an audience,” said Eric Schiffer, Chairman of Reputation Management Consultants and CEO of the Patriarch Organization, where he offers reputation and management consultation.
But many analysts agreed he would have tone down some of his extreme right-wing views, particularly his support of the Supreme Court’s decision overturning abortion rights, to restore his appeal to a mainstream audience — especially the female-skewing demographic that is the core of daytime TV viewership.
“If he wanted to go back to TV, and he was to be done with politics, he could cut the cord on his conservative path,” Schiffer said. “In fact, he would be advised to do that because he’s going to want the widest audience. Why cut off 50% of your audience?”
If Oz was willing to move away from politics completely, he could try to revive himself as a medical expert. (Practicing medicine is also an option, although he cut ties last spring with Columbia University, where he is now listed as an emeritus professor.)
“He would need to double down on his past brand,” said Nathan Miller, founder and CEO of Miller Ink., a communications strategy agency that specializes in business, diplomacy, crisis management and issue advocacy. “Figuring out what he has to say that’s relevant to people right now to people who may not agree with him politically, but might be interested in what he has to say about those range of different [health] issues.”
Oz is not the first celebrity-turned-politician to face these questions. But Ronald Reagan was retired from acting when he went into politics and left the White House at age 77. Action-movie star Arnold Schwarzenegger, who was 63 when he finished his second term as governor of California, had small roles in 2010s movies like the “Expendables” series.
“He’s returned — to some extent — to acting, although certainly not to the extent that he was before,” Thompson said. “So, certainly one can go back and forth like that. That’s going to be difficult for Dr. Oz.”
Oz may benefit from the fact that people outside Pennsylvania may have been less aware of his failed Senate campaign. “There’s still a core audience that’s available to him,” Schiffer said. “I don’t think there’s going to be significant negative implications from that election, and people forget over time as well.”
Still, it’s hard to imagine that Oprah Winfrey — who gave Oz his start as a health expert on her hit daytime show but later endorsed his opponent, Democratic Senator-elect John Fetterman — returning as a producer on any new daytime show. Reps for Winfrey and Sony Pictures Television, which distributed the show, did not respond to requests for comment.
Of course, Oz might also be attempted to lean into his new branding as a telegenic right-wing political figure — one with a MAGA-forward identity.
“I see talk radio as a viable option right now,” Fox News contributor Joe Concha said of Oz’s possible next move.
Seeking work as a political host or commentator on cable news might be another option, of course, though Concha noted that Oz could also branch out and launch his own platform — possibly by moving into the podcast arena.
At least for now, Oz’s voice may not be welcomed with open arms by the right-wing media community. “The last thing that conservatives want to hear right now is Dr. Oz giving political advice,” Concha said. “I think there is some resentment that he lost such a winnable race. He should have beat [Fetterman] by free touchdowns. I’m not sure a lot of people want to be hearing from Dr. Oz after losing what would have been — if he won that, Republicans could have taken over the Senate.”
But first, Concha suggested that Oz “take a break and reassess.” With a net worth of $200 million — perhaps less after spending at least $7 million of his own money on his Senate campaign — Oz has no need to leap back into the workforce right away.