On April 17, MacFarlane tweeted, “Oprah has done some wonderfully altruistic things with her career, but the use of her platform to amplify the voices of dubious characters rather than legitimate scientists has been a disservice. I hope she will lend her own powerful voice to correct it.” He also shared an LA Times article about the controversy surrounding Dr. Phil and Dr. Oz.
MacFarlane doubled down on his criticism on Thursday. “Oprah has spent her career doing a lot of altruistic things ... and has really, in many ways, used her platform for good,” he told Vice. “The exception to that is the elevation of these purveyors of pseudoscience.”
He then pointed to some of the suspicious figures she’s promoted in addition to Phil and Oz, such as Jenny McCarthy of the anti-vax movement, who, on Oprah’s show in 2007, alleged that vaccines cause autism.
“And it’s a strange dichotomy that I think a lot of people, particularly right now, are having trouble reconciling,” he continued. “You know, this person who has done all this positive work for the world, and yet somehow has gotten caught up in this web of junk science on many occasions.”
Earlier this month, Dr. Phil appeared on Laura Ingraham’s Fox News show, where he suggested that the nationwide shutdowns were an unnecessary reaction.
“The fact of the matter is, we have ... 45,000 people a year die from automobile accidents, 480,000 from cigarettes, 360,000 from swimming pools, but we don’t shut the country down for that, but yet we're doing it for this, and the fallout is going to last for years because people’s lives are being destroyed.”
He later retracted his comparisons between COVID-19 deaths and deaths from cars, pools, and cigarettes: “I get that they are not contagious, so they are probably not good examples.”
For Dr. Oz’s part, he appeared on Sean Hannity’s Fox News show to discuss reopening schools, saying it “may only cost us 2 to 3%, in terms of total mortality.” Oz later released a statement where he said he “misspoke.”
Both Dr. Phil and Dr. Oz launched their careers on Oprah’s show—she also produces their current shows. She hasn’t yet responded to either talk show host’s comments or MacFarlane’s critique.