Dr. Mehmet Oz insisted Thursday that Pennsylvanians “deserve better” than having John Fetterman in the Senate after the Democrat was forced to use closed-captioning software to understand a reporter’s question months after suffering a stroke.
“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,” Oz, the celebrity heart surgeon, told Fox Business Network’s Maria Bartiromo. “But maybe he does. Again, lots of question marks, and voters deserve better.”
On Tuesday, Fetterman granted NBC News his first in-person sit-down since his May stroke. The interview, with reporter Dasha Burns, was conducted with Fetterman reading her questions on a closed-captioning monitor due to so-called “auditory processing” issues during his recovery.
The Republican Oz said he has “tremendous compassion” for Fetterman as a doctor, but asserted that Pennsylvania voters deserve transparency from his opponent — who has declined to release his medical records or give media outlets permission to interview his doctors.
“In the interview, he refused 12 times that day to talk about his medical records, and the questions for the voters are what’s he hiding?” Oz said. “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.”
In Tuesday’s interview, Fetterman, the lieutenant governor of the Keystone State, said he has been able to read, hasn’t lost any memory and characterized the auditory problems a “lingering issue.”
“I feel like we have been very transparent in a lot of different ways. When — our doctor has already given a letter saying that I’m able to serve and to be running,” he said.
However, Fetterman skipped over several words, seemed to misplace words, and stuttered while speaking with Burns. At one point, he struggled to pronounce the word “empathetic” and acknowledged the moment as an example of the stroke’s lingering damage.
Before the interview aired, Burns went on the record to say that Fetterman “has a hard time understanding what he’s hearing” and has “some problems, some challenges with speech.”
“Just in some of the small talk prior to the interview, before the closed captioning was up and running, it did seem that he had a hard time understanding our conversation,” Burns told MSNBC host Katy Tur Tuesday afternoon.
Burns was harshly criticized by liberals for her assessment of Fetterman’s condition.
Kara Swisher, a podcaster and former opinion writer for the New York Times, claimed to have a different experience interviewing Fetterman.
“Sorry to say but I talked to @JohnFetterman for over an hour without stop or any aides and this is just nonsense. Maybe this reporter is just bad at small talk,” Swisher wrote.
Rebecca Traister, who interviewed Fetterman for an article in New York Magazine, said she didn’t find him “impaired.”
”He understands everything, it’s just that he reads it (which requires extra acuity, I’d argue) and responds in real time. It’s a hearing/auditory processing challenge,” she said.
Burns said NBC was “happy to accommodate closed captioning” and acknowledged that “different reporters” could have “different experiences” with a candidate.
“Our team was in the room w him & reported what happened in it, as journalists do. Before & after closed captioning was on,” she said on her Twitter account.
”Our reporting did not and should not comment on fitness for office,” Burns added. “This is for voters to decide. What we do push for as reporters is transparency. It’s our job. Fetterman sat down and answered our questions. That’s his job.”