The editor of the editorial pages of The Wall Street Journal hit back against those who took issue with an op-ed the paper published last week urging Jill Biden to the drop her “Dr.” honorific because she is not a medical doctor.
In a Sunday op-ed titled “The Biden Team Strikes Back,” editorial director Paul A. Gigot claimed the Biden team’s response to the controversial op-ed by Joseph Epstein, who served as editor of the magazine The American Scholar from 1975 to 1997, was “clearly a political strategy.”
“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,” Gigot wrote. “And since it’s a time to heal, we’ll give the Biden crowd a mulligan for their attacks on us.”
Gigot explained how the backlash his paper has received was in response to Epstein’s Saturday op-ed titled “Is There a Doctor in the White House? Not if You Need an M.D.” Epstein, a former lecturer at Northwestern University, argued that Jill Biden, who obtained a doctorate in education in 2007, should drop the title. 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, who taught English for 30 years at the collegiate level with just a bachelor’s degree, further wrote, “In contemporary universities, in the social sciences and humanities, calling oneself Dr. is thought bush league. The Ph.D. may once have held prestige, but that has been diminished by the erosion of seriousness and the relaxation of standards in university education generally, at any rate outside the sciences.”
Epstein was met with intense pushback on social media from blue checks such as former Obama senior adviser Valerie Jarret, who characterized his opinion as “misogynistic nonsense.”
It is disappointing that the @WSJ would give anyone an avenue to publish such misogynistic nonsense. The soon-to-be First Lady of the United States will be referred to by her name – Dr. Jill Biden. Get used to hearing it, kiddo. https://t.co/upXkT7C2V4
— Valerie Jarrett (@ValerieJarrett) December 12, 2020
Gigot further explained how he also has taken flak for even publishing Epstein’s piece. “This has triggered a flood of media and Twitter criticism, including demands that I retract the piece, apologize personally to Mrs. Biden, ban Mr. Epstein for all time, and resign and think upon my sins,” he said. “The complaints began as a trickle but became a torrent after the Biden media team elevated Mr. Epstein’s work in what was clearly a political strategy.”
“Why go to such lengths to highlight a single op-ed on a relatively minor issue?” Gigot asked. “My guess is that the Biden team concluded it was a chance to use the big gun of identity politics to send a message to critics as it prepares to take power. There’s nothing like playing the race or gender card to stifle criticism. It’s the left’s version of Donald Trump’s ‘enemy of the people’ tweets.”
“Mrs. Biden is now America’s most prominent doctorate holder and is taking a leading role in education policy,” Gigot added. “She can’t be off-limits for commentary.”