MSM and Biden media team pitch a fit over suggestion Jill Biden stop using the title 'Dr.'
When Joseph Epstein wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal asking the wife of Joe Biden to stop using the honorific "Dr." before her name, he hit a nerve, judging by the fierce reaction from the media flacks and even the Biden media team.
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.
The fiercest and weirdest charge was "sexism." The New York Times provided a sample:
"Some men are so threatened by educated women," said Audrey Truschke, an associate professor of South Asian history at Rutgers University, who called Mr. Epstein's piece a "misogynist, self-absorbed screed." On Saturday, she was among a number of women who added Dr. to their names on Twitter in solidarity with Dr. Biden.
Michael LaRosa, a spokesman for Dr. Biden, called Mr. Epstein's piece a "disgusting and sexist attack" and urged The Journal to remove it and apologize to Dr. Biden. Mr. Epstein declined to comment for this article. The Journal did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Saturday evening.
Of course, the same criticism would apply to men with doctorates who don't hold medical degrees. But the Biden media team jumped in with the same identity politics critique, as Paul Gigot, editorial page editor of the Journal, noted:
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.
Mrs. Biden's press spokesperson, Michael LaRosa, issued a tweet in early afternoon: "@jamestaranto, you and the @WSJ should be embarrassed to print the disgusting and sexist attack on @DrBiden running on the @WSJopinion page. If you had any respect for women at all you would remove this repugnant display of chauvinism from your paper and apologize to her." James Taranto is the Journal's op-ed editor, but I am responsible for the opinion pages.
Elizabeth Alexander, the soon-to-be first lady's communications director, also chimed in: "Sexist and shameful. Be better @wsj." Ms. Alexander called me after her tweet to register her disapproval personally, which is fine. Her job is to flack for her boss, and part of my job is to listen to complaints. We had a frank exchange of views, as the diplomats say, and I invited her to send in a letter for publication.
They're vehement because they know they are wrong. Whoopi Goldberg, an African-American woman who has culturally appropriated a Jewish identity with no criticism from the usual suspects, proved the case when she ignorantly recommended "Dr. Jill Biden" for surgeon general on The View:
"I'm hoping Dr. Jill becomes the Surgeon General, his wife," she exclaimed, prompting [Jonathan] Karl [of ABC News]to awkwardly laugh.
"Joe Biden's wife," Goldberg continued. "She would never do it but, yeah, she's a hell of a doctor. She's an amazing doctor."
Liberal co-host Joy Behar appeared entirely confused by Goldberg's claim and McCain chimed in that she believes Biden isn't actually a medical doctor.
"I could be wrong," Goldberg replied.
"She's a teacher but might be good for [Secretary of Education] Betsy DeVos's post," so-host Sunny Hostin stepped in. Behar excitedly declared in response: "Yes, perfect!"
I have a stake in the game, as I hold a Ph.D. and am married to an M.D. I never use the title Dr. before my name, though there is a certain amount of good-natured joking in our household over the origins of the two honorifics (medieval barbers versus natural philosophers).
Steven Hayward, writing in Powerline, touched on something few want to discuss:
While no one in academia will admit it, an Ed.D degree is regarded at about the level of an MBA, if that. And how many lawyers demand to be called "doctor" because their degree is actually a "Juris Doctor"? "Excuse me, your honor, but that's Doctor Dershowitz to you!" Yeah — not even that guy.
As also the holder of an MBA, I have to object to being compared to an Ed.D. While there are no doubt some fine and scholarly people who hold that credential, schools of education are renowned for their low standards. Education is a field that has been host to a series of "innovative new approaches" over the past 50 years that have been ruinous in practice. Our government schools have been declining in quality and rising in expense throughout the period in which doctorates of education have proliferated.
My impression is that many people who obtain a doctorate in education work in government school systems, which offer higher pay for higher degrees. I have noticed a number of high school principals who are reverently referred to as "Dr. so-and-so," as if they were endowed with superior status to mere mortals.
I agree that if you can prescribe drugs, it is fine to use the title Dr. in ordinary life. Otherwise, just glory in your erudition.
Photo credit: YouTube screen grab.