Hot topics close

Dr. Jill Biden Responds to Wall Street Journal Op-ed: “That Was Such a Surprise”

Last week, the publication ran an essay that claimed Dr. Biden’s title is “fraudulent” because she’s not a medical doctor. In an interview with Stephen Colbert, the Future First Lady said it was the “tone” of the piece that left her startled.

Six days after the Wall Street Journal published an op-ed by writer Joseph Epstein based on the condescending premise that Dr. Jill Biden should feel embarrassed for using the honorific since she isn’t a medical doctor, the Future First Lady said she was taken aback by the piece.

“That was such a surprise,” Dr. Biden said when asked about it in an interview with Stephen Colbert on Thursday’s episode of The Late Show.

“It was really the tone of it that I think—he called me ‘kiddo,’” she added.

[embedded content]

Indeed, Epstein was dismissive from the very opening of his column. “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?” he wrote. “‘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.”

The piece was roundly condemned on social media, including by Former First Lady Michelle Obama.

“For eight years, I saw Dr. Jill Biden do what a lot of professional women do—successfully manage more than one responsibility at a time, from her teaching duties to her official obligations in the White House to her roles as a mother, wife, and friend,” Obama wrote on Instagram. “And right now, we’re all seeing what also happens to so many professional women, whether their titles are Dr., Ms., Mrs., or even First Lady: All too often, our accomplishments are met with skepticism, even derision. We’re doubted by those who choose the weakness of ridicule over the strength of respect. And yet somehow, their words can stick—after decades of work, we’re forced to prove ourselves all over again. Is this really the example we want to set for the next generation?”

Speaking Thursday, Dr. Biden said the doctorate was “one of the things I’m most proud of” and said she was grateful for the support she received in the wake of the op-ed. After Colbert suggested it might be considered a compliment, since the right-wing media has little else with which to attack Dr. Biden, she said while laughing, “Okay, I’ll take it that way.”

Dr. Biden was joined by her husband, President-Elect Joe Biden, for the interview. “Did you ever want to get out a length of pool chain and go full Corn Pop on these people?” Colbert asked the president-elect.

“The answer is, it’s close,” he said before Dr. Biden quickly interrupted.

“No, the answer is no,” she said. “It was just the tone of it.”

As he crossed his arms to his chest, Biden added, “I’ve been suppressing my Irishness for a long time.”

More Great Stories From Vanity Fair

— Cover Story: Stephen Colbert on Trump Trauma, Love, and Loss— Rosario Dawson Tells All About The Mandalorian’s Ahsoka Tano— The 20 Best TV Shows and Movies of 2020— Why The Crown Season Four’s Prince Charles Appalled Royal Experts— This Documentary Is the Real-World Version of The Undoing, but Better— How Hero Worship Turned to Scorn in the Star Wars Fandom— In Light of The Crown, Is Prince Harry’s Netflix Deal a Conflict of Interest?— From the Archive: An Empire Rebooted, the Genesis of The Force Awakens— Not a subscriber? Join Vanity Fair to receive full access to VF.com and the complete online archive now.

Similar news
  • The secrets behind Dr. Jill Biden’s seriously glowing skin
  • All The Beauty Products Dr Jill Biden Wore On Her Latest Cover Shoot
  • Jill Biden Gives Independent New York Designer a Boost With Purple Ensemble
  • Melania Trump Has Not Reached Out to Jill Biden: 'Unfortunate,' Joe Biden's Daughter Says
  • Incoming First Daughter Ashley Biden says she won’t be working in her father’s administration
  • Melania Trump Won't Give Jill Biden White House Tour, Flouting Historic Tradition
  • Ashley Biden says Melania Trump hasn't reached out to Jill Biden
  • Jill Biden, incoming first lady and longtime teacher, answers kids' questions
  • What’s Really Behind The Flap Over Jill Biden’s Doctorate
  • Dr Jill Biden says op-ed attack a surprise – but won't let president-elect fight back
  • Jill Biden says her doctorate is among her proudest achievements: 'I worked so hard for it'
  • Wall Street Journal column criticises Jill Biden for using prefix 'Dr', sparks outrage
  • Jill Biden will be first FLOTUS with a full-time job
  • November 7 highlights: Joe Biden becomes the president-elect
  • How does 69 year-old Jill Biden look so good after four days of a drawn-out election?
  • In Oscar de la Renta Florals, Dr. Jill Biden Makes Her First Appearance as Future First Lady
  • Live election updates: Joe Biden and Kamala Harris deliver victory speeches
  • Live election updates: Joe Biden and Kamala Harris deliver victory speeches
  • Jill Biden will be historic first lady: Just call her ‘Professor FLOTUS’
  • Jill Biden vows Joe Biden "will be a President for all of our families" after race is called