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The Petty Tyranny of Claire McCaskill.

Popular TV talk show host Dr. Mehmet Oz was called to testify before the Senate Subcommittee on Consumer Protection. The apparent aim of having Dr. Oz serve as a witness was to browbeat him into ceasing talk about the effectiveness of weight loss supplements on 'The Dr. Oz Show." That, at least, was the mission of the chair of that subcommittee, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D.-Mo.), who proved herself to be a petty tyrant In effectuating that mission.

McCaskill is a friend of the pharmaceutical industry, receiving (as Mike Adams recently reported on the website NaturalNews) more than $146,000 from Express Scripts, a pharmaceutical product retail giant. She is a big fan and defender of the Food and Drug Administration and cheerleader for regulatory enforcement against the makers and sellers of dietary supplements.

Congressional hearings, like this one, oftentimes devolve into a kangaroo court environment where members jockey for media attention, endeavoring to top one another in the character assassination of witnesses. By creating a media spectacle, they hope and pray for a few moments of precious network air time where they might appear authoritative and sound sonorous to the public. They appreciate every opportunity to claim credit for taking down folks who are easy popular targets, oftentimes captains of industry (like General Motors CEO Mary Barra).

The hearing with Dr. Oz was no different. In the midst of it, Chairman McCaskill unwittingly revealed some very unflattering things about herself. Her comments and questions made clear that she has little respect for constitutional protection for freedom of the press, no hesitation to abuse the power of her office, and no problem publicly intimidating a talk show host into accepting her editorial prerogatives over his own.

Anyone who respects the Constitution never would employ public office to censor private speech. Under the First Amendment, the Federal government is disarmed of censorship. Our Founding Fathers viewed those royal governors who prosecuted colonists for seditious libel (and who presumed to dictate what could be published) to be anathema to the unalienable right of liberty, so they placed in the Bill of Rights an amendment designed to end that practice. Nevertheless, throughout our history, those like McCaskili cannot resist abusing their public office to prey upon those whose opinions they despise.

McCaskili recently lost some weight through dieting and exercise; she did not rely on dietary supplements to help her achieve her weight-loss goals. She takes offense at the notion that others might be aided in their weight-loss efforts by the taking of dietary supplements. She communicates the same message on weight loss favored by the FDA and the Federal Trade Commission. She favors those agencies' ongoing regulatory rampage against supplements in aid of weight loss.

Against that backdrop, McCaskili hammered away at Dr. Oz, explaining that she wanted to make "an example" of him. In no uncertain terms, she let Dr. Oz know that she expected him to do her bidding on his show by immediately ceasing to make favorable comments about supplements for weight loss.

Note well that Dr. Oz does not sell dietary supplements he owns on his television program; rather, he occasionally voices his opinion about the benefits of dietary supplements made by others that he has investigated and found beneficial. Moreover, Dr. Oz is not a defender of every dietary supplement company; he specifically finds certain dietary supplements of no real benefit.

Assuming the arrogant mantle of a parent scolding a child, McCaskili told Oz: "I know you know how much power you have. You are very powerful.... You are being made an example of today because of the power you have in this space. We didn't call this hearing to beat up on you.... You can either be part of the police here or you can be part of the problem and we are just hopeful that you will do a better job at being part of the police."

Dr. Oz is no dummy. Fie got McCaskill's message. Fie knows if he does not do as McCaskili demands, she likely will look for a way to punish him. She has friends at the FDA and FTC. She also can encourage state regulators to harass him. Dr. Oz knows that, if McCaskili unleashes the regulatory dogs against him, he will be forced to expend time and money on defending himself against legal attacks, bad publicity, and interference with his business relationships. Fie even might suffer a dressing down by his own network.

McCaskili is yet another petty tyrant so common in government today. Fier constituents would do well to defend the Constitution by voting her out of office. Friends of Dr. Oz in Missouri should find a good candidate to run against her. Dr. Oz could do himself and the nation a favor by defending his right to press freedom against this blatant attempt to take that freedom away from him.

Jonathan W. Emord is an attorney and the principal of Emord and Associates, Clifton, Va., and the author of several books, most recently, Restore the Republic--Flow the American People Can Once Again Be Free and Prosperous.
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Title Annotation:Senate Hearings
Author:Emord, Jonathan W.
Publication:USA Today (Magazine)
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Aug 1, 2014
Words:849
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