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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.

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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.”

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