Jill Biden told “Late Show” host Stephen Colbert that she was surprised anyone would criticize her for referring to herself as a doctor despite not having a medical degree.
“You once said in your own memoir, ‘The role I always felt most at home in is Dr. Biden,'” Colbert began. “Now some people have recently taken upon themselves to question that title of yours. Do you have any reaction to those people?”
Colbert was apparently referencing a Saturday op-ed by Joseph Epstein in The Wall Street Journal titled “Is There a Doctor in the White House? Not if You Need an M.D.” Epstein, a former lecturer at Northwestern University who served as editor of The American Scholar from 1975 to 1997, argued that Jill Biden, who obtained a doctorate in education from the University of Delaware in 2007, should drop the title.
“Yeah, that was such a surprise,” Jill Biden answered Colbert, adding, “It was really the tone of it that I think that — you know, he called me ‘kiddo.’ One of the things I’m most proud of is my doctorate; I mean, I worked so hard for it. And, you know, Joe came when I defended my thesis.”
“I got to hand her her doctorate on the stage at the University of Delaware,” Joe Biden interjected. “She had two masters’ degrees, she kept going to school all the time while teaching at night, and then what happens is, I said, ‘Jill, why don’t you get a doctorate and make us some real money.’ She gets a doctorate and gets a $2,000 raise.”
“But look at all the people who came out in support of me,” Jill Biden continued. “I am so grateful. And I was just overwhelmed by how gracious people were toward me.”
Colbert then suggested that critics went after her for her doctorate because they couldn’t find anything else.
— A Late Show (@colbertlateshow) December 18, 2020
Epstein wrote in part:
Madame First Lady—Mrs. Biden—Jill—kiddo: a bit of advice on what may seem like a small but I think is a not unimportant matter. Any chance you might drop the “Dr.” before your name? “Dr. Jill Biden” sounds and feels fraudulent, not to say a touch comic. Your degree is, I believe, an Ed.D., a doctor of education, earned at the University of Delaware through a dissertation with the unpromising title “Student Retention at the Community College Level: Meeting Students’ Needs.” A wise man once said that no one should call himself “Dr.” unless he has delivered a child. Think about it, Dr. Jill, and forthwith drop the doc.
Epstein was met with intense pushback on social media from blue checks such as former Obama senior adviser Valerie Jarrett, who characterized his opinion as “misogynistic nonsense.”
Paul Gigot, the editor of the editorial pages at The Wall Street Journal, remained unapologetic in the face of the backlash, writing, “These pages aren’t going to stop publishing provocative essays merely because they offend the new administration or the political censors in the media and academe. And since it’s a time to heal, we’ll give the Biden crowd a mulligan for their attacks on us.”
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