Pennsylvania Republican Senate nominee Dr. Mehmet Oz reacted to the interview his opponent Lt. Gov. John Fetterman (D) gave to NBC News this week, which raised questions about Fetterman's health.
Fetterman, who suffered from a life-threatening stroke last May, struggled to speak and required a closed-captioning device to understand questions from NBC News reporter Dasha Burns in an interview that aired on Tuesday. Burns and NBC News observed that Fetterman had difficulty understanding her questions, which stoked outrage on social media from Fetterman's supporters, who accused the network of misrepresenting his health.
Oz, a celebrity doctor and television host, was asked about the computer device Fetterman used by Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo on Thursday.
"It's called closed-captioning, as you know, it's actually what he's requested in the only debate he's granted me, which would be in two weeks, so it's getting towards the end here. But finally I'm going to be able to talk to him," Oz said.
He expressed concern for Fetterman's health before criticizing him for refusing to be transparent with voters and release his medical records, a point that was brought up in the NBC interview.
"I've got tremendous compassion for John Fetterman," Oz said. "I'm a doctor who's actually specializing in heart failure, irregular heartbeats, strokes, these are things he's been suffering from. And I'm glad that he's getting back on the campaign trail. But this isn't about me, or the reporter, or anybody else but the voters. They deserve transparency, and John Fetterman's team has repeatedly refused to release his medical records."
"The question for the voters is: What's he hiding?" he added. " Be transparent about what you're up to. Either you've got a medical problem, which we can work through, or you're hiding a radical agenda, which is a bigger concern that I have."
Burns had pressed Fetterman on his refusal to disclose his medical records. The Democrat insisted that his doctors have cleared him to campaign and that voters can see for themselves that he's ready to serve if elected by witnessing him on the campaign trail.
But Bartiromo asked Oz, “How is he gonna make decisions about Pennsylvania and fight for the Pennsylvanian people if, in fact, he needs to have a device alongside him?
"So is this just all the time he needs that device, or is it just during an interview? I don’t understand,” she said.
"No one knows," Oz responded. "We’ve not been actually exposed to this before. It’s the first in-person interview, here we are, less than a month before the election. And I’ve been asking John Fetterman to answer questions on the campaign trail. Initially he wasn’t even on the campaign trail for the first couple months. But answer questions from voters, answer questions from reporters while you’re actually campaigning. That’s what we normally do in a democracy."
He continued, "The concern, of course, is if you don’t ever leave your home and answer questions, we don’t know the answers to the questions you’re asking. But I don’t think there’s closed captioning on the floor of the Senate, and maybe he doesn’t need closed-captioning when he’s actually moving around. But maybe he does. Again, lot of question marks, and voters deserve better."
Oz and Fetterman are scheduled to meet on the debate stage on Oct. 25, just two weeks before Election Day on Nov. 8. Fetterman has requested a closed-captioning device to understand the debate questions.