Celebrity doctor and talk show host Dr. Mehmet Oz began his two-week stint as guest host of “Jeopardy!” on Monday and straightaway faced criticism. Even before he stepped foot on the quiz show stage, Dr. Oz received backlash after an open letter calling for the show to rethink the decision was published on Medium.com in February.
Fans and former “Jeopardy!” winners and contestants emphatically pleaded that the show rethink the decision, alleging that casting Oz would celebrate “the elevation of … talking head[s] at the expense of academic rigor and consensus.”
“When we heard that Dr. Mehmet Oz was slated to be a guest host, agreement came quickly — we were opposed,” they began in the letter, published on Feb. 24. “Dr. Oz stands in opposition to everything that ‘Jeopardy!’ stands for.”
Despite the calls to remove him from the show, Dr. Oz took his place behind the podium Monday night and opened the show with a tribute to the late Alex Trebek.
“You know, I was so fortunate to become friends with Alex, and I visited him and this show as often as I could,” said Dr. Oz. “One of my favorite memories was of Alex showing me, with immense pride, a room full of letters and support for him from you, from his fans. And of all of his achievements, he was most proud of his connection with all of you at home.”
Fans Sound off After Dr. Oz’s Debut ‘Jeopardy!’ Episode
Even though he honored the beloved game show host, Dr. Oz’s performance was met with an overwhelming amount of negative reviews. On social media, the majority opinions were negative as #BoycottJeopardy started trending following his debut.
Despite the backlash, the contestants’ winnings were matched by “Jeopardy!” to Dr. Oz’s charity, HealthCorps. During his premiere episode, the contestants and the show raised $23,001 for the organization, which provides health education and peer mentoring to students and community outreach to underserved populations.
The TV doctor has also come under fire for pushing controversial medical advice to his viewers in the past. In 2014, Dr. Oz went before a Senate panel for touting questionable weight-loss products.
The following year, doctors sent Columbia University a request for his dismissal from the medical school’s faculty. Last spring, when the COVID-19 pandemic began ramping up in the U.S., Dr. Oz faced criticism for alleging that “the opening of schools may only cost us 2% to 3%, in terms of total mortality,” which “might be a trade-off some folks would consider.”