Over the weekend, an op-ed published in the Wall Street Journal sparked a fierce backlash after newspaper contributor Joseph Epstein argued that Dr. Jill Biden, who holds two master’s degrees and a doctorate in education from the University of Delaware, should drop “doctor” from her title, fueling accusations of sexism towards the incoming first lady.
Times opinion writer Tim Wu appeared to suggest that Epstein’s op-ed is evidence that conservative offensiveness began long before Trump entered politics.
“Joseph Epstein’s oped on Jill Biden’s honorific is a reminder that the old-fashioned pre-Trump conservatives were pretty wretched too,” Wu wrote on Saturday.
The op-ed sent liberals into a tizzy, as everyone from the incoming second gentleman to Northwestern University – where Epstein was a lecturer of English – condemned the piece along with a plethora of media members.
“Dr. Biden earned her degrees through hard work and pure grit. She is an inspiration to me, to her students, and to Americans across this country. This story would never have been written about a man,” Kamala Harris’ husband Doug Emhoff tweeted.
Even the incoming first lady took a not-so-subtle jab at the op-ed.
“Together, we will build a world where the accomplishments of our daughters will be celebrated, rather than diminished,” Biden tweeted on Sunday.
Longtime Wall Street Journal opinion editor Paul Gigo responded to the blue wave of critics with an op-ed of his own.
“Why go to such lengths to highlight a single op-ed on a relatively minor issue? 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,” Gigot wrote.
“The difference is that when Mr. Trump rants against the press, the press mobilizes in opposition. In this case, the Biden team was able to mobilize almost all of the press to join in denouncing Mr. Epstein and the Journal. Nearly every publication wrote about the Biden response, reinforcing the Biden-New York Times line: ‘An Opinion Writer Argued Jill Biden Should Drop the ‘Dr.’ (Few Were Swayed.),’” Gigot continued. “This strategy worked to protect Joe and Hunter Biden during the campaign, so it’s no surprise that they’re keeping it up as they head to the White House.”
Gigot feels the “outrage is overwrought” because Epstein’s point “applies to men and women and his piece also mocked men for their honorary degrees,” while the president-elect’s wife “can’t be off-limits” for commentary.
“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. And since it’s a time to heal, we’ll give the Biden crowd a mulligan for their attacks on us,” Gigot wrote.
Fox News’ Brian Flood contributed to this report.