A Public Sphere for Poetry, Nature, and Politics
Newsworthy: Quack gives a clean bill of health to conman. Not newsworthy: HRC talks about real path to citizenship
Mark Twain would have changed the names and turned it into a hilarious short story: A charlatan physician interviews a charlatan businessman about his health.
For that’s what we’re talking about in the Mehmet Oz interview of Donald Trump. Oz, a medical doctor, has a television show on which he often touts unproved therapies and products, some of which he has a financial interest in. His current Wikipedia article notes “A study published in the British Medical Journal on the effectiveness of Oz’s medical advice found that 51 percent of his recommendations had no scientific backing and rationale, or in some cases contradicted scientific evidence.”
Much has been written about Donald Trump’s business quackery, but let’s do a brief review: Four bankruptcies leaving investors holding the bag. 3,500 lawsuits, many of which are for bills he hasn’t paid. His many failed branding ventures, including Trump steaks, vodka, airlines, mortgage broker, magazine, water, game and university, plus a professional football team. The low return on his investments over time, much lower than what he would have made if he had invested passively in the stock market using funds that track stock indices. The criminal actions filed against Trump University and the investigation into the Trump Foundation that have revealed real wrong-doing (unlike the various investigations of Hillary and the Clinton Foundation, which have found nothing illegal or unethical).
A bogus doc and a bogus moneymaker. But on TV, Oz plays a successful physician and Trump plays a successful businessman.
In The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Huckleberry and the runaway slave Jim meet two conmen in their travels, one of whom claims to be a Duke, the other of whom claims to be a King. Much of the book, often cited as the greatest of all American novels (I favor Catch 22), details the various cons the Duke and King play on the residents of small towns along the Mississippi.
Oz and Trump. The Duke and the King. It would make a wonderful satire, but as a real life event, it is tragic.
Oz must have gone to the Matt Lauer School of Autocrat Adulation, because he was at least as sycophantic and obsequious towards the Donald as Lauer had been during the Commander in Chief Forum. Although Donald Trump’s body mass index of just over 30 qualifies as obese, Oz said that Trumpty-Dumpty was “slightly overweight.” Why Oz felt that toadying to a narcissistic blowhard running for president was more important than reminding his audience of the problem of obesity in America will remain a mystery to all but Oz and his financial advisors. It was a shameful moment for a physician, but then again, no more shameful than supporting psychic communication with the dead, devoting a show to reparative therapy for gays and calling green coffee extract a miracle, all of which Oz has done.
I thought that Matt Lauer had asked the easiest, most friendly question in the history of the American news media when he inquired of the Donald whether he was studying foreign affairs to learn more. But Oz managed to throw an even slower, easier pitch to hit when he asked Trumpty-Dumpty, “When you look into the mirror what do you see?” Trump evidently has some uncorrected visual difficulties because he looked past the gray at his temples, the crow’s feet, the double chin and the 60 pounds of extra padding and said he sees a 35-year-old man.
Like Lauer, Oz avoided the tough questions. Trump has released his recent medical test results, including the results of a testosterone test. That he took such a test should have been a red flag to Oz. Testosterone tests are not a routine part of an annual physical and are not and have never been recommended by any medical association for a healthy person without a particular set of symptoms.
WebMD lists the following reasons to conduct a testosterone test on an adult male:
The release of testosterone test results provides highly circumstantial evidence that we did not get a complete list of the medicines Trumpty-Dumpty regularly takes. But Oz did not ask anything about the oddness of a healthy man with no complaints having this test.
Even Oz’s kid glove treatment would not have prevented the Donald from doing severe damage to his campaign and self-image if the producers had not edited the show. Missing in the version that aired on television is a creepy incident that will make you want to jump in the shower and wash off the filth immediately. At a certain point, the good daughter Ivanka appears and Donald gives her a kiss. Oz gushes sentimentally that “It’s nice to see a father kiss his daughter.” Trumps proudly trumpets that, “I try to kiss her as much as possible.” Sick, creepy, and reminiscent of Trump’s other disturbing comments about having an incestuous relationship with his oldest daughter. But most people will never know because Oz and/or his handlers cut it out. We wouldn’t want to point out that the emperor is naked, would we?
The quack’s interview of the creepy conman vied with a number of stories about the election as the top news of the day, including (using the front section of the New York Times):
As a former news writer, field producer and on-air reporter, I have a very strong opinion about what should have been the lead story of the day: At a speech in front of a Latino organization, Hillary laid out in detail her immigration plan and stated explicitly that she wants to give illegal immigrants a path to citizenship.
A Google News search uncovered zero stories about Hillary’s bold and beautiful immigration plan, nor on the impassioned and inspirational speech she gave. Of course, any reporter who saw the speech could no longer be able to say or write with a straight face that Hillary is distant, doesn’t connect with people, doesn’t smile, has no empathy and all the other crap reporters like to say to denigrate Hillary’s style, statements of value that would never be applied to her if she were a he.
Her speech was a perfect platform for a media outlet to contrast the immigration policies of the two candidates. Hillary wants a road to citizenship, Trump wants a wall. Such a story might even bring up the fact that illegal immigration is down so much that at this point more illegals are returning to their former countries than sneaking into the United States, thus negating the panic that Trumpty-Dumpty wants to instill in the American people.
Day after day, the mainstream news media fail to question Trump’s lies; create false equivalencies between the trustworthiness of the candidate who lied the least in the current election cycle and the one who has lied the most in history; focus on personalities instead of issues; create a false narrative about Hillary’s health and trust-worthiness; and spend way more time and space trying to find something wrong in her emails than reporting all the wrong in the dealings of the Trump organization, university and Foundation. The public sees the constant hammering of Clinton and they never learn the full extent of Trump’s lies and lunacy. What should have been a landslide is turning into a close race, and it’s all the fault of the mainstream news media.
Why is the media easy on Trumpty-Dumpty and hard on Hillary? I have developed several theories and read of others to explain the media’s double standard: 1) A close race and a focus on the buffoon Trump is good for ratings. 2) The news media and the wealthy industrialists who own and control them fear or dislike Clinton. 3) They’re trying to “thread the needle,” which means make the race close enough that the Democrats don’t take back the Senate and win the House. 4) Reporters and editors, who so cleverly could find ways to support Bush II in 2000, the Iraq War at its inception, the Tea Party and the absolutely false notion that you solve a recession by balancing the federal budget, suddenly are helpless in dealing with a lying buffoon. 5) They really don’t want a woman to be president. 6) There may even be a class system explanation: that the news media always tend to like the candidate who was born to the manor, or the closest to it of the candidates.
Frankly, I still think it comes down to keeping taxes low for the wealthy. The wealthy elite who own and control most of the news media would rather risk giving the country over to a trigger-happy, sociopathic, racist, mendacious crook who has failed at everything he ever did that did not exclusively include self-promotion than to see their taxes go up.
Copyright 2016 Marc Jampole