On Wednesday, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump will go on The Dr. Oz Show to discuss his health with television's "most trusted doctor" (whatever that means). It comes just days after questions about the health of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton were revived after video of her nearly fainting at a 9/11 memorial event surfaced. The GOP presidential candidate seems eager to underscore his vitality at a time when his opponent is convalescing from pneumonia.
This latest act in the 2016 race of two extremely secretive candidates trying to out-bid each other in the transparency department (without either of them actually embracing transparency) is in keeping with both of their established public demeanors. Following her near-fall this weekend, the Clinton campaign announced it would release more medical records later this week.
For Trump, on the other hand, visiting the historically problematic Dr. Mehmet Oz is a perfect fit for his factually fast-and-loose campaign. Perhaps if Trump hands over the results of his physical to the good doctor — Oz told Fox News Radio's Kilmeade & Friends on Tuesday he doesn't know if Trump will share his medical records and said "it's his decision ... it's his personal records" — Oz will analyze it on air. Reportedly, not even Trump knows what he will say (though, of course, Trump will have reviewed the records beforehand, so how surprising could it possibly be?).
Oz has a history of promoting quack therapies and "miracle" solutions on his show. It got so bad that a group of doctors in 2015 wrote a letter to the Dean of Medicine at Columbia University, where Oz is a professor, asking the school to reconsider his appointment.
While there's evidence that, following a wave of criticism for his less-than-medically-accurate discussions, The Dr. Oz Show has tried to adhere closer to real science, any notions that he might really drill down on Trump should be firmly put aside: Oz vowed on Kilmeade & Friends not to ask any questions Trump "doesn't want to have answered." So, from my perspective, it will be less of an interview and more of an hour-long political ad.
Still, some are calling the move smart on Trump's part: he's been struggling with women voters, and The Dr. Oz Show has great ratings in that demographic.
But even more troubling is the way that Trump's campaign and The Dr. Oz Show are similarly cavalier about science and the truth. Trump's political policies offer the same quick-fix solutions that some of Oz's more problematic guests touted. Because the real hard truth is that there are no easy solutions or quick fixes — in politics or in health and medicine. Oz's beloved Reiki can't guarantee a successful surgery the same way that building a wall and deporting millions of immigrants won't magically fix our economy.
What Trump and Oz are both selling are feel-good shortcuts that get around the actual slog that is everyday life. Just remember: if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.