DOs fight back: Profession responds to Hasan Minhaj’s Jimmy Fallon interview

Comments that broadly mischaracterized DOs prompted outrage among DOs and MDs alike.

Editor’s note: Due to the overwhelming response from DOs and MDs, Hasan Minhaj released a follow-up video on Dec. 11 to clarify his comments about DOs. Minhaj said DOs are excellent doctors who provide great patient care. The video includes footage of osteopathic physicians Dustin Portela, DO, Erika Visser Aragona, DO, and AOA CEO Kevin Klauer, DO, EJD, as well as a screenshot of this article in The DO. Learn more here.

During a recent interview on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, comedian Hasan Minhaj broadly mischaracterized DOs, referring to them as “off-brand doctors” among other comments that perpetuated harmful stereotypes about osteopathic physicians. The clip was quickly circulated throughout the medical community, prompting outrage from DOs and MDs alike.

The AOA works tirelessly to coordinate with the broader osteopathic medical profession to combat misrepresentations of osteopathic physicians and their role in health care. The organization regularly responds to such attacks on DOs’ reputation on social media, online and on broadcast channels.

Specifically, after Hasan Minhaj’s Tonight Show appearance, the AOA coordinated a response that began at roughly 12:30 a.m. on the evening of notification, followed by an expansion the next day. Then we convened our social media SWAT team, which includes many prominent DOs, including AOA President Joseph Giaimo, DO, and AOA President-Elect Ernest Gelb, DO, for final strategic planning of the response.

In responding to the clip, the AOA:

  • Initiated a swift response on Twitter that has generated 169,000+ impressions, 16,000+ engagements, 413 likes, and 184 retweets.
  • Posted a rebuttal on Instagram, which currently has over 1,700 likes and is one of our most popular posts to-date.
  • Retweeted a short video (see below) featuring AOA CEO Kevin Klauer, DO, EJD, discussing the situation and actions from the AOA, as well as his additional posts.
  • AOA President Joseph Giaimo, DO, participated in the defense via his Twitter account.
  • Monitored and retweeted DOs and MDs who have stood up for the profession, including posts from Doctor Mike (60,000+ impressions and 1,600+ engagements) and Dr. Arora.
  • Coordinated with influential Twitter DOs to form a rapid strike team.
  • Pitched 23 reporters who covered past PR issues involving DOs, offering access to AOA leadership and practicing osteopathic physicians to provide background on the profession.
  • Contacted The Tonight Show requesting an interview and apology.

Responding to Minhaj’s statements is critically important because statements like his have the potential to impact public health, says Polly Wiltz, OMS IV, noting that for her, the clip brought to light how quickly stereotypes and misinformation spread.

“We are living in a time where misinformation is literally killing people,” she says. “False information about COVID-19 has led to many unnecessary deaths in the U.S. Although Minhaj did not outright share misinformation, he perpetuated a harmful stereotype that does not belong in public discourse during a pandemic.”

Social posts defending DOs

Please see a sampling of social posts from the AOA and the osteopathic medical community below. DOs, osteopathic medical students and their allies are encouraged to join the effort by sharing these posts, posting accurate information about osteopathic physicians while using the #DOProud hashtag, and bookmarking the AOA’s Professional Advocacy page to stay abreast of the latest efforts to defend DOs.

Related reading:

Following backlash, comedian Hasan Minhaj clarifies his comments about DOs

Osteopathic medical profession fights back after CNN, MSNBC mischaracterize DOs

AOA statement regarding offensive FIGS ad


  1. Michael

    Like it or not, D.O.’s are an off brand, and have been so for many years. Perhaps an alternative brand would have been a better description. We should embrace being an alternative to allopathic medicine, and that we are different than M.D.’s by way or our training in manual evaluation and skills and by way of the osteopathic philosophy.

  2. Joseph P Molnar,DO,FACOFP dist.

    This is probably a dated comment , but my wife was very ill with our first child in 1969. Her DO physicians, referred her to Mayo Clinic for further care. When we registered and with every encounter , the same question was asked ,”what kind of Doctor are you.” I was well schooled in the apologetics of explaining what a DO was and why I “chose” to become one and to a person, physician , clerk , aid and nurse , they looked pained and said they were well aware of our credentials and the contribution we made to the medical landscape. They were ranked the NO.1 medical system in the world.
    After that, I felt further explanations demonstrated the ignorance of others rather then a need to explain.
    I am very proud however of the AOA for their proactive stance and their reacting to each ignorant media gaffe .
    Not on social media, I would appreciate either e-mail addresses or snail mail addresses and contacts to send my own note registering my disgust.
    I was around for many of the battles , which may have dust on them but are still fresh and those battles should NEVER have to be refought.
    Thank you!

  3. Eye doctor

    Were outraged that Hassan Minhaj had the audacity to compare himself to a DO. He said hes a DO and John Oliver an MD as a comparison. Hes more like an RN 1st year student in that analogy!

    All jokes aside. It was in poor taste on his part. He probably has some baggage left from not getting into med school.

  4. Ben Roberts, D.O., FAAFP

    If the AOA was doing its job, the American public would already know what a DO is and wouldn’t be hearing about us for the fist time on Jimmy Fallon. And if DOs are outraged, they should check their white coats first and see if they stitched “D.O.” on there or just left it as “Dr.”

    Mine says DO, my business cards say DO, and my email signature says DO. If you don’t know I’m a DO and what that is, we must never have talked before.

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