Dr. Phil McGraw, if you do your homework you know that Dr. Phil McGraw identifies as a Christian and a conservative, who claims to not discuss politics and used to keep his right wing views hidden behind a mask of neutrality.

Screen grab from aDr. Phil episode on cancel culture, Oct. 2022

For those who don’t know, “doctor” Phill has never been licensed as a physician in any state. He’s a doctor of philosophy, with a doctorate in psychology who let his psychology license expire almost 20 years ago. In 1988, after two complaints of misconduct, one of which alleged sexual advances toward a patient, the Texas State Board of Examiners of Psychologists launched an investigation into his practices. Unable to find any reference to physical contact, the complaint file was closed in 1990. Then, after more complaints from patients emerged and put his ability to practice psychology at risk, Dr. Phil “voluntarily surrendered” his Texas license in 2006, and no longer holds a license to practice psychology of any kind in the United States.

Phil McGraw’s credentials or lack thereof have:

been an ongoing controversy in the clinical psych world, with many psychologists questioning whether his TV program violates the law by offering the services of a psychologist.”

Dr. Phil has been called “a Donahue-meets-Maury” and rightly so because he exploits those with with mental health problems he claims to help. Like Povich, McGraw is very well aware that nothing boosts ratings like controversy and bizarre or extreme behavior. He has also long been criticized for hawking like a side show snake oil salesman everything from his wife’s makeup and podcast, to the various drug rehab centers and ranches he offers his guests trips to, and his son’s “Dr. On Demand” App, to game apps like Bingo Blitz (which he segues into with the claim that everyone needs a stress break).

Which side of the political divide is Phil on?

There is a 2008 copyrighted photo of Dr. Phil smiling with Donald Trump and Melania, (which I have avoided reproducing to avoid copyright infringement but which you can see here.) And, in 2015, on Jimmy Kimmel, Phil admitted he knew Trump personally and said he is “a very smart and likable guy when you meet him one-on-one” but he also expressed concern about Trump’s lack of diplomacy and the dangers it could present. He also mocked the “dead cat” on his head and said it was the reason Trump dons a red cap.

“I like Donald Trump, I think he gets a bad rap on some stuff and he scares the bejeebers out of me on other stuff,” said the man with the ole country boy routine. “But at some point, he’s going to have to replace some his adjectives with verbs and we’ll see what that amounts to.”

There is nothing wrong with political neutrality or pointing out the faults of both sides of the aisle, nor is being able to have an open mind a bad thing, even being able to “flip-flop” on an issue. But, there is, in my opinion, something very disingenuous with pretending to be neutral.

Little Red Riding Hood didn’t need to fear grizzly bears near as much as the cleverly deceptive wolf who disguised himself as her dear, sweet old grandma!

Recently, Phil has stuck his toe out of the a-political closet, showing his true self while still pretending to be neutral. His ratings are still up there — second only to Kelly Ripa in daytime talk shows — but he seems bored of hiding in the shadows and keeping his true feelings on issues to himself.

Thus, in recent weeks he moved the show’s classic MO of finding guests whose lives or lifestyles need “saving” to hosting panels exploring highly contentious topics such as: do transgender women athletes have an unfair advantage; to political correctness and cancel culture with an Oct 10 episode entitled You Can’t Say That! displaying a list of words and phrases that are allegedly taboo, including: master bedroom, tone deaf, grandfathered in, mom and dad, brainstorm . . .

Despite a couple of college campus anecdotes, he fails to reveal who is allegedly making these rules much less enforcing them, or who has been “cancelled” for violating the word police. Just the vague implication that there are crazy “liberals” are overly sensitive and over-protected cry-babies and thus are too easily offended and have gone “too far.”

But Mr. “plain-talking” never mentions the cancel culture of book banning. So much for political neutrality, centrism or presenting both side of an issue.

Neither does he, or any of the assembled allegedly pro and con guests, mention that liberals who are championing less offensive language, such as the use of the “R” word for people with cognitive disabilities, are doing so on behalf of and to protect others, not themselves.

This episode was followed the very next day (Oct 11) by, “You Said it . . . Now You’re Cancelled.” That twofer was followed by a show on the pros (?) and cons of harm reduction safe spaces for drug addicts, which of course Phil insisted was just “enabling” “bad behavior.” One of guests was Michael Shellenberger, author of San Fransicko: Why Progressives Ruin Cities. He followed these hot topics by asking if terminally ill patients have a “right” to die on their own terms.

So where did the guy who doesn’t discuss politics go and when is the episode on abortion and reproductive rights? Or, does he next discuss the alleged “raid” on Mar-a-Lago or the Jan 6 hearings and debate whether the evets of Jan 6 were in fact an insurrection or no different than any lawful, peaceful demonstration or tourist day at the Capital? Will his next guest be Rudy or Mr. Pillow while still claiming to be middle-of-the road because he will have on in the same episode supporters of Nancy Pelosi or Liz Cheney?

This is his modus operandi: he seemingly presents both sides of controversial issues. One must dig deeper into his language both verbal and bodily to see through his phony facade and know who he really supports and agrees with and who he clearly mocks and discounts.

Oprah’s Accountability

We cannot discuss Dr. Phil without mention of his mentor and creator, billionaire businesswoman and talk show host, the queen of tv ratings and rating-makers: Ms. Oprah Winfrey to whom both Dr. Phill and Dr. Oz owe their success.

Ms. Oprah is said to have considered a run for president of the United States — as a Democrat. She has openly supported Barack Obama, expressed pro-gun control views, is pro-LGBT rights, and is in favor of providing a path to citizenship for undocumented DREAMERS. She has used her platform on award shows to speak of the importance of freedom of the press and her solidarity with the “Me Too” movement.

Was this seemingly intelligent women fooled by Dr. Phill’s claims of being a good-ole-middle-of-the-road boy? Did Dr. Oz likewise pull the wool over her eyes, gain her support and then reveal his true Republican self? Was she bamboozled by both of them failing to properly vet folks before handing them the keys to the castle and putting her seal of approval and support on both men? Shame on her if that is the case and she should now apologize.

Real heart surgeon, Mehmet Oz, has of course let down any pretense and is running for the state senate in Pennsylvania on the republican ticket, though he has waffled in his support for the sore loser cult leader faced with multiple civil and criminal charges. Phil, on the other hand is far more dangerous — a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

Politics is a rough game that requires loyalty especially in today’s highly divided culture. I respect anyone who truly wants to avoid taking sides or those who change party affiliation. Rudy Giuliani who was originally a Democrat, and supported both Kennedy and McGovern and after five years as an independent, switched to the Republican Party in 1980 before running for Mayor of NYC as a “moderate” Republican before completing his turnabout with his staunch support of Donald Trump. It’s quite a dramatic shift but it didn’t happen overnight and he’s been open about where he stands, making him far less dangerous than two-faced chameleons who try to hide their true beliefs to gain wider support. I much prefer and admire honesty, especially when to be truthful to your core beliefs may cause disfavor or lose votes — or less viewers — such as the courage of Liz Cheney. It’s refreshing to see rare displays of personal integrity these days.

It’s the sneaky ones we all need to be aware of. The obvious lackies like Pillow Guy, Mike Lindell, are far less dangerous. But, many double agents get passed us with their phony veneers, masquerading as centrists and hiding their true agenda until they are entrenched in and embraced by the American television culture either for ratings, advertisers, endorsements or later political runs. They are like political cat-fish that woo you in with false platitudes and know all the right words to say and which to avoid, like the slick “carny” who gets you into the tent; like charismatic serial killers . . .

Like him or hate him, Dr Phil has a large following and thus holds some sway with lots of people. I am sure many, if not most, of his viewing audience believe he is being fair and presenting both sides of these controversial issues. They thus might not be fully aware of his mocking and dismissive language used to discuss opinions he labels “too liberal” or “dangerously liberal” and may well be subliminally swayed. Pretending to be something he is not and using his vast audience to do so is dangerous. It’s like inviting someone you believe to be a friend in to your home — which tv audiences do — and having them steal from you or sleep with your spouse. Your tust of them makes it more insidious.

Of course, why be honest when it risk you losing viewers, ratings or advertisers.

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