Not only did they refuse, progressives in media rushed to his defense, claiming everyone involved, including Dr. Henry Miller, MD, founding director of the FDA Office of Biotechnology, was part of a right wing cabal. You know. Republicans. out to tear down the Great and Powerful Oz, darling of the left standing up to Big Pharma and the evil corporations trying to block out natural medicine.
The same corporations that just saved millions of lives by producing COVID-19 vaccines in record time were the enemy of progressive journalists at every company from Mother Jones to Slate.
Mainstream corporate media sided with Oz over doctors and scientists, along with these guys. Levitating guru Jeffrey Smith and osteopath Joe Mercola, plus the oddly-named Sourcewatch, whose executive director appeared on his show to complain about science, and supplement huckster Mike Adams.
With their political allies in media on their side and his, Columbia spokesman Doug Levy wrote then, “Columbia is committed to the principle of academic freedom and to upholding faculty members’ freedom of expression for statements they make in public discussion.” Allies in media claimed that the organization I was running, the American Council on Science and Health, later in 2015 was "a pro-industry advocacy group", whatever that means. Environmental Working Group gets more industry funding every year than the entire budget of the American Council on Science and Health and always has. When I was there, "corporate funding" was 4 percent of revenue. The American Heart Association is littered with corporate money and yet New York Times and Slate have never dismissed their work as "pro-industry."
Yet that defense worked. Columbia wrapped themselves in the flag of academic freedom. Dr. Oz continued to make money leveraging their brand. No more. Columbia has cut ties with him. Not for his shoddy medical advice. Not due to his evidence of payola and asking Sony for money to promote their products. Not his pseudoscience and mysticism.
All it took was his becoming being a Republican.
Even Scientific American, which has become more like Dr. Oz than even Dr. Oz was in their embrace of alternatives to science and medicine, turned on him.
How Columbia got to the right answer is maddening- politics infects universities the same as it does government itself - but most important is that they finally did. It only took 7 years, but the scientists and doctors who made that call in 2015 and were vilified by journalists for it won't be getting an apology for the smear campaign any time soon.