The Viral Photo of Dr. Oz That's Taking the Internet by Storm Is Not Real

While Pennsylvania Senate candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz has had his fair share of valid scandals, the seemingly embarrassing photo of him circulating online is fake

Dr. Oz viral photo
The doctored Dr. Oz photo that went viral. Photo: Twitter

Someone doctored Dr. Oz.

Republican Senate hopeful Mehmet Oz received negative press this week when a photo circulated online that appeared to show him posing alongside a person holding his campaign sign sideways, reading "NO" instead of "OZ."

Internet users had a field day with the picture, calling the sign-holder "brilliant" and writing things like, "Dr. Oz gets trolled everywhere he goes and it makes me so happy."

While it's true that Oz has had a tough go during his campaign to represent Pennsylvania in the U.S. Senate — a majority of the criticism stemming from the fact that prior to entering the race, he lived in New Jersey — multiple fact checkers revealed that this particular scandal has no merit, and was crafted with some deceptive photo editing.

The reality is: The person holding the sign in the original, unedited photo appears to be supporting Oz, as she is holding his sign the proper way that reads "OZ," not "NO."

Dr. Oz viral photo
The original, unedited Dr. Oz image. Dr. Oz/Twitter

If someone wants to criticize Oz, there are several ways to do so without veering into "fake news" territory. The celebrity doctor, 62, has made himself an easy target from day one of his political career, when he launched a campaign in a state that he hasn't lived in since medical school.

His Democratic opponent, Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, has routinely gone viral for cleverly challenging the MAGA Republican's qualifications for office.

Fetterman, 53, has employed a number of internet-savvy tactics, like getting Jersey Shore's Snooki to record a video calling his move to Pennsylvania "temporary," flying a banner over the Jersey coastline welcoming Oz "home" when the doctor passed through, and starting a petition to get Oz inducted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame.

Lt. Gov. John Fetterman and Dr. Mehmet Oz
John Fetterman, Mehmet Oz. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Bonnie Biess/Getty

But Oz has also placed himself in hot water a number of times on the campaign trail, inadvertently backing up Fetterman's claims.

A video posted on Oz's Twitter account in April intended to highlight the effects of inflation in Pennsylvania, but instead came across as pretentious as he was shown shopping for "crudités" in a local Redner's supermarket — which he erroneously referred to as "Wegner's."

Fetterman was quick to tease that Oz was out of touch with voters ("in PA we call this a... veggie tray"), to which Oz's campaign spokesperson fired back that Fetterman, who suffered a stroke in May, would not have done so if he'd "ever eaten a vegetable in his life," prompting widespread backlash.

And when Oz offered an unsure answer about the number of houses he owns, reporters concluded that he has 10 residential properties, including a Palm Beach, Florida, mansion — where locals consider him a "part-time" resident — for which he recently received a hefty tax break.

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Oz became a nationally known name with The Dr. Oz Show, which launched in 2009 after he made a name for himself as a frequent guest on The Oprah Winfrey Show.

While it helped propel the cardiothoracic surgeon's television career, the show also proved controversial, and Oz has been accused of promoting unproven medical treatments and making false or misleading scientific claims in the years since it has been on the air. (In response to a New York Times article last year detailing some of the issues, his campaign said he went against the "established grain" but was focused on his patients. Oz himself has said he tries to reach the audience where they are and "empower "them.)

Many of Oz's past claims have been called into question by other doctors, such as in 2015, when a group of physicians sent a letter to New York's Columbia University demanding Oz's dismissal for promoting what they called "quack treatments."

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