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'Jeopardy!' fans not happy with Dr. Oz as guest host

Hundreds of former contestants signed an open letter

Hundreds of former contestants signed an open letter criticizing Dr. Mehmet Oz and his role as guest host for two weeks on "Jeopardy!" Credit: Invision / AP / Evan Agostini

Many "Jeopardy!" fans are criticizing the game show's producers for allowing TV-personality and physician Dr. Mehmet Oz to guest host for the two weeks that started Monday.

More than 600 former contestants from the long-running game show, including Patchogue's Abigail Myers (April 2-4, 2017), Lake Ronkonkoma's Heidi Sanchez (June 5-7, 2007) and Nicole Savin of Lindenhurst (Sept. 19, 2002), signed a Feb. 24 letter, which says of 60-year-old cardiac surgeon Oz that, "Throughout his nearly two decades on television he has used his authority as a doctor to push harmful ideas onto the American public."

These include, the letter said, "promoting supplements that do nothing, legitimizing gay conversion therapy (which is banned in California, as well as 19 other states), dangerous 'cures' for autism, and … the use of hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for COVID-19. None of these things is backed by any scientific fact and by promoting them he is actively putting his viewers in danger."

Author and television news analyst Jeff Greenfield cheekily echoed the sentiment Monday, tweeting in the "Jeopardy!" format: "Answer: Dr. Oz. Question: who's the worst possible pick for 'Jeopardy' guest host?" One commenter responded, "Dr. Oz hosting Jeopardy is great if the categories are BOGUS TREATMENTS, PSEUDOSCIENCE, BAD COVID TAKES, and MIRACLE CURES."

Many Twitter commenters Tuesday said they would not watch the show during Oz's two-week stint — "Not for all the snake oil in the world," wrote one. "Very sorry to see a charlatan associated with a show that stands for truth and knowledge," wrote another. One person offered a snarky new category: "Lies I've spread on Fox for 100 please." And many wrote some variant of: "What an insult to the memory of Alex Trebek, an ethical gentleman dedicated to truthful knowledge." The longtime "Jeopardy!" host died of pancreatic cancer at age 80 in November.

Such complaints are not new. In 2015, 10 physicians urged Columbia University to cut ties with Oz for promoting unscientific cures, NBC News said at the time. Oz responded that his program is actually "not a medical show," and that its purpose is "not to talk about medicine" but, rather, "the good life."

"Jeopardy!" representatives did not respond to a Newsday request for comment.

CORRECTION: In a previous version of this story former contestant Nicole Savin's name was misidentified.

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