'He’s not from PA!': 'Outsider' Mehmet Oz slammed for tone-deaf 'victim-blaming' in addiction speech

'He’s not from PA!': 'Outsider' Mehmet Oz slammed for tone-deaf 'victim-blaming' in addiction speech
Dr. Mehmet Oz in August 2015 (Wikimedia Commons)

During a campaign speech in Monroeville, Pennsylvania near Pittsburgh on Monday, August 29, Dr. Mehmet Oz addressed the state’s problem with drug addiction — which is especially bad in the Kensington area of Philadelphia. Oz, who is running against Democratic Lt. Gov. John Fetterman in the state’s U.S. Senate race, was obviously trying to convince voters that Republicans would do a better job confronting the crisis. But he has been drawing criticism for coming across as an outsider and for having a less-than-compassionate tone during his speech.

Oz told the crowd in Monroeville, “Go down to Downtown Philadelphia — I see a little bit in Pittsburgh now too, but more in Philadelphia — there are whole blocks, multiple blocks and areas you can't go. There are addicts walking like zombies into the street with needles sticking out of their necks.”

Ever since he won the Democratic nomination for Pennsylvania’s 2022 U.S. Senate race, Fetterman has been painting Oz as an outsider — often reminding voters that, unlike Oz, he is a lifelong Pennsylvanian. Oz moved to the Philadelphia suburbs from New Jersey to run for the U.S. Senate, and his speech in Monroeville, critics are arguing, showed a lack of familiarity with the drug crisis in Philly and with basic Philly geography.

READ MORE:How Mehmet Oz is scrambling to save his 'floundering' campaign: report

First, Oz spoke of “Downtown Philadelphia,” whereas Philadelphians call the city’s downtown area Center City or Center City Philadelphia. Second, the “whole blocks” in Philly where the drug crisis is impossible to miss are not in Center City, but in the troubled Kensington area — which is several miles from pricy and very gentrified Center City. While Center City has its share of homelessness (some of it drug-related), the “whole blocks” of Philly that Oz was describing sounded like Kensington, not anywhere in Center City. To many Philly voters, not knowing the difference between Center City and Kensington is a major deal breaker.

Oz, following that speech, was attacked by critics and Twitter users not only for sounding like he didn’t know Pennsylvania as well as he should, but also, for sounding like he would rather resort to fear-mongering than propose solutions for addicts who need help.

Radiologist Albert Bundy, @radsonoab, tweeted, “He’s a disgrace to the medical profession. What’s his solution to help the problems of drug addiction and homelessness? To be a good doctor requires empathy, otherwise you’re treating your own ego, not the patient. And he’s not from PA!”

Wyoming Democrat Carol Hafner accused Oz of “victim blaming,” and Twitter user @littlewing628 posted, “He’s really awful showing his true colors and it’s not pretty at all…what a shallow awful greedy man he is….”

READ MORE: Mehmet Oz's campaign blames John Fetterman's stroke on his diet

Twitter user Patricia McCarthy, @Patrici74990985, slammed Oz for his limited knowledge of Philadelphia geography, posting, “Yea like he was ever in Philadelphia. I doubt he ever made into Kensington.” Another Twitter user, Alison Berkowitz, @aliberk65, wrote, “His lack of compassion is disgusting. Big pharma initially got most of these people hooked. Who is Oz in bed with?” And @MrNYC1974 complained, “This is 100% inaccurate. If Dr Oz was from Philly, maybe he’d know that.”

Oz and Fetterman are competing for the U.S. Senate seat that is presently held by arch-conservative Republican Sen. Pat Toomey, who is not seeking reelection. GOP strategists have been sounding the alarm about Oz’s campaign and polls that show him losing to Fetterman. A Franklin & Marshall poll released in late August found Oz trailing Fetterman by 13 percent; other late August polls, however, showed a closer race, with Fetterman ahead by 5 percent (Susquehanna) or 4 percent (Emerson College).

READ MORE: 'A massive gaffe': Mehmet Oz scrutinized for saying abortion is 'still murder’ at any pregnancy stage

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