Incoming first lady Jill Biden addressed the mainstream outlets that ran criticism of her Ed.D. and decision to go by “Dr.” in a Thursday night chat with Stephen Colbert, remarking that the attacks — and especially their “tone” — caught her off-guard.
“That was such a surprise!” she said when “The Late Show” host asked about the Dr.-centric news cycle of the past week.
“It caught me by surprise, as well. I did not see that one coming,” said Colbert, who mused that such attacks could be seen as complementary if detractors had nothing else to complain about.
“Nor did I! It was really the tone of if that I think — you know, being called ‘kiddo,'” Dr. Biden said, referencing Joseph Epstein’s piece from last Friday in the Wall Street Journal which did, in fact, call her that. “One of the things I’m most proud of is my doctorate. I worked so hard for it. Joe came when I defended my thesis…”
She went on to express gratefulness for “all the people who came out in support” of her after two mainstream outlets ran pieces criticizing her title, saying, “I was just overwhelmed by how gracious people were to me.” Indeed, MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski and others laid into the Wall Street Journal and National Review authors who diminished Biden’s academic works.
The incoming president butted in to defend his wife’s career, pointing out she had two Masters degrees and was still going to school at night when he suggested getting the Ed.D.
Colbert asked him, “as a husband who loves this person,” if he wanted to get out a length of chain and wail on the detractors, but the incoming first lady jumped back in to head off a PR crisis and declare “the answer is no!”
Biden offered a wry smile while his wife insisted “it was just the tone” that caused a problem and Colbert got the message and moved on.
National Review critic-at-large Kyle Smith was the latest media figure to face blowback online for a harsh review of incoming Biden’s dissertation. Piggybacking off discourse from last weekend about her use of the “Dr.” honorific, Smith called Biden’s dissertation “garbage” in a Wednesday review and argued it “is not an addition to the sum total of human knowledge.”
Like Smith’s, Epstein’s op-ed was roundly lambasted last weekend. Biden herself appeared to weigh in days before her interview with Colbert, tweeting Sunday, “Together, we will build a world where the accomplishments of our daughters will be celebrated, rather than diminished.”
Watch above, via CBS.