Dr. Oz & the epidemic of reality TV stars in politics

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The nation seems to be in the midst of yet another contagion — not the Omicron variant, but reality celebrities convinced they should be high-profile political leaders.

Talk-show host Dr. Mehmet Oz is the latest mutation in this epidemic, announcing his candidacy in a crowded field for U.S. senator from Pennsylvania. The doctor follows in the footsteps of two unsuccessful candidates for California governor: Kardashian cast member Caitlyn Jenner and radio provocateur Larry Elder. Each one is Republican — and no doubt encouraged by another GOP reality star, former President Donald Trump, whose election in 2016 seems to have prompted a lot of celebrities to look in the mirror and ask, “Why not me?”

This extraordinary epidemic traces its origins to Hollywood and the unique place that reality-show personalities have in the show business petri dish. It’s a special strain of celebrity which seems to encourage bold overreach.