Dr. Oz's Seemingly Candid Encounter with a Grieving Black Community Member Was More Staged Than He Let On

Oz reportedly failed to disclose that the woman he was seen embracing was a paid member of his campaign team, not someone who simply showed up to his advertised "community discussion"

Mehmet Oz, a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania, embraces Sheila Armstrong, 45, who lost her brother to gun violence at House of Glory Philly CDC in Philadelphia Election 2022 Pennsylvania Senate, Philadelphia, United States - 19 Sep 2022
Photo: Ryan Collerd/AP/Shutterstock

A candid moment at a recent campaign event hosted by Dr. Mehmet Oz is being called into question, after The Intercept reported that a grieving woman comforted by the candidate was also a paid campaign staffer.

The outlet reports that the woman, Sheila Armstrong, was featured prominently at a Sept. 19 campaign event billed as a "community discussion," during which she told the story of the fatal shootings of her brother and nephew.

Oz comforted Armstrong during the event in an emotional encounter that involved him hugging her and asking about her coping mechanisms.

But as The Intercept reports, the campaign left out that Armstrong worked for Oz and, while her grief was real, the moment was more staged than suspected.

Mehmet Oz, MD, consoles a victim of gun violence during a closed-door community discussion on gun violence and public safety in the Germantown section of Philadelphia, PA, on September 19, 2022. Senate Candidate Mehmet Oz Hold Closed Door Discussion On Gun Violence In Philadelphia, United States - 19 Sep 2022
Cory Clark/NurPhoto/Shutterstock

The outlet says the campaign manager for Oz's Democratic opponent, John Fetterman, shared a screenshot of the woman's business card on Twitter, which identifies her as a "Philadelphia County Coordinator," with a doctorozforsenate.com email address.

The outlet further reports that a campaign commercial for Oz was filmed that day and released two weeks later and features "at least two of the participants in the Philadelphia event, including Armstrong."

As The Intercept reports, Armstrong's story serves as a heartbreaking reminder of the human toll of gun violence — but is also seemingly indicative that the Oz campaign "misled reporters who attended the invitation-only discussion where she was a featured speaker by failing to disclose her affiliation with the campaign."

Oz has been in a hotly contested Senate race in Pennsylvania since announcing his candidacy last November and winning the Republican primary in June.

He'll now take on Fetterman, the state's lieutenant governor, in the November election — a race that could help turn the tides of the evenly split Senate.

Though he rose to national prominence as a cardiothoracic surgeon/television personality, in recent years, Oz has crusaded into far-right politics, dropping the veil of neutrality he stood behind for most of his career.

Now under a microscope in the race for Senate, Oz routinely faces criticism for his motives, beliefs and questionable medical record — including a recently resurfaced scandal involving the cruel treatment of animals by Columbia University research teams that he oversaw.

Oz has been endorsed by former President Donald Trump, who said in April that he had known the celebrity doctor "for many years, as have many others, even if only through his very successful television show. He has lived with us through the screen and has always been popular, respected and smart."

"Harvard-educated, tremendous, tremendous career and they liked him for a long time. That's like a poll," Trump told the crowd at a North Carolina rally, The Washington Post reports. "You know, when you're in television for 18 years, that's like a poll. That means people like you."

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