Dr. Mehmet Oz offered up hot take after take during a recent speech about his political campaign — including that he told Oprah Winfrey to "stay out" of it – and RadarOnline.com has obtained the exclusive audio.
The 61-year-old celebrity physician – who began his career as a cardiothoracic surgeon – is running for Senate in Pennsylvania as a Republican.
It was during a private lunch held in New York City on Thursday that an attendee asked Oz about his position on transgender rights, citing the recent controversy surrounding competitive swimmer Lia Thomas, a senior at the University of Pennsylvania who set three school and two national records at a meet earlier this month. She came out as trans in 2019.
"The transgender issue is kind of diluted a little bit," Oz replied. "The suicide rate amongst transgender adults has grown [inaudible]. This is critical to understand. We have to have compassion on this problem. It is a devastating one. And transgender folks who are adults, when they are processing this, have to figure out if they wanna keep living the lie – they don't think they're who they are – or be who they truly are and are [inaudible] because of it. So that's like the baseline."
Pivoting from his point of compassion, Oz said he feels it's not right to offer protection to one group of people if it means jeopardizing the safety of another.
"But then you layer on top of that changes to our society that hurt other people in an effort to protect one group of people, and that's not fair. That's not fair," he said, circling back to the topic of trans athletes.
"Feminists have very eloquently fought for the ability to have women's sports be on equal [inaudible] as men's sports, and this takes away that ability," he said, adding, "I would argue that what I just said can't be said – I definitely couldn't have said it on [The Dr. Oz Show] – and you need to be able to say those things."
As we reported, The Dr. Oz Show is coming to an end in January after 13 seasons on the air, despite having previously been renewed until mid-2023. The fate of the daytime television program reportedly became uncertain after its titular host announced his Senate run; however, his series had not been doing well in the viewership department since before that.
At Thursday's luncheon, Oz insisted his position with regard to trans athletes was "not about being hateful or harmful. I'm not trying to make anyone's life miserable. I'm respectful of how difficult it is. But we have to be able to say these things in America."
"There might be some cases where it doesn't matter," he said. "If you're a bodybuilder or weightlifter, it matters."
Oz went on to praise J.K. Rowling, whose controversial remarks about the trans community have been widely condemned as transphobic.
"J.K. Rowling, who's not some icon of the conservative party, said something that I think was very brave," said Oz. "She was a lifelong feminist, and then she's canceled. And I've talked to people who are canceling her, who would've been making a lot of money off her, and they can't defend what they're doing, or they don't wanna be in trouble."
"And as a brave American," he added, "you have to be willing to get into trouble. That's what makes us different."
He used that point to make a rather unexpected comment about his relationship with Oprah.
Oz became a household name after appearing as a health expert on The Oprah Winfrey Show for five seasons. Then in 2009, the media mogul helped the TV doctor launch his own series, which went on to win nine Daytime Emmy Awards.
He said he recently spoke to his longtime "friend" and asked her to not get involved in his political endeavors.
"I talked to Oprah, she's a friend. And we have friends with different perspectives. And we should! You don't wanna just be in a bubble with people who think exactly like you. That's pretty boring," said Oz.
"I asked her to stay out. 'Don't support me because, if you get involved in any way, you'll get hurt. And I don't want my friends hurt,'" he recalled telling her.
He said he instructed his wife and children to do the same.
"I told my kids, 'Stay out of it. If you see things you know are false, don't go for the bait. Stay out of it.' Even my wife's family, who are very active politically, I said, 'Just don't get in the way because, if you get on your knee, they'll pull you down. They can't say anything more negative than they already are saying now.'"