In response to criticism from the osteopathic community and its MD colleagues, comedian Hasan Minhaj issued a video response on Friday evening, explaining his negative comments about DOs and their qualifications.
Minhaj made the disparaging remarks on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon in September.
Besides saying that osteopathic physicians are RC Cola while allopathic physicians are Coca-Cola, he said that DOs couldn’t “afford the good letters” and told a story about his own physician while dealing with a fertility issue. The AOA couldn’t find any evidence that the doctor he cited even exists. The AOA, DOs across the country and hundreds of MDs united on social media and demanded an apology.
The video released Friday still pokes fun at DOs and mentions MCAT scores several times, but the comedian acknowledges that osteopathic physicians are great doctors and provide excellent patient care. It also touches on the fact that physicians everywhere—osteopathic and allopathic—are battling a pandemic.
“We need to remain strong and unified as a profession,” said AOA president Joseph A. Giaimo, DO, MACOI, FCCP. “We are so thankful for the many within the osteopathic community and our MD colleagues who rallied in support of DOs and osteopathic medical students across the nation. I’m proud to see that our activism and advocacy makes a true difference.”
A “DOs fight back: Profession responds to Hasan Minhaj’s Jimmy Fallon interview” headline from The DO and video clips by osteopathic physicians Dustin Portela, DO (Twitter handle @208SkinDoc) and Erika Visser Aragona, DO (@Doctor_Erika_) were also featured in Minhaj’s follow-up video.
A video clip from AOA CEO Kevin Klauer, DO, EJD, is included about halfway through the 10-minute video.
Minhaj is on a comedy tour and includes the osteopathic physician segment as part of his shows.
The AOA’s response to the original video was swift and substantial when it aired on The Tonight Show on Sept. 20. 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 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.
United in appreciation
Although the video posted Friday stops short of a formal apology, the AOA, osteopathic physicians and MDs united in appreciation that the comedian acknowledged he hit a nerve in the medical community that he didn’t anticipate. One osteopathic physician posted early Saturday morning, “Cheers to all doctors (DO and MD); I’m honored to all be on the same team. That’s simply what doctors do. #DOProud. Another wrote that there are “lots of great DOs out there. Lots of great MDs out there. Primitive to dichotomize quality of a doctor based on their degree. Bad/good, MD/DO, us/them—that way of thinking is sad & ignorant. The truth of almost everything is far more complex.”
The AOA issued statements on social media, saying that we don’t agree with everything in the video, but we appreciated the acknowledgement that DOs are great doctors.
“#DOProud embodies the AOA’s mission and efforts to advocate for osteopathic physicians and medical students, whenever, wherever and however called upon to do so,” said Dr. Klauer. “We are a proud profession, and the AOA is proud to serve our professional community. At the end of his video, Hasan asked, ‘Are we good?’ I think we are. Do we expect a comedian not to poke some fun at us in his response? Not at all. That’s what comedians do. However, his response reflects that the importance of the issue wasn’t lost on him. For that, I’m thankful.”