Fox News host Chris Wallace defended Jill Biden against critics, including some at his network, who have questioned her using the honorific “doctor” by noting that others such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. have done the same despite not holding a medical degree.
What are the details?
The bizarre controversy over what to call the future first lady erupted last week when an opinion columnist called on her to drop the “doctor” before her name in an essay for the Wall Street Journal due to her lack of a medical degree. The author, Joseph Epstein, who taught for thirty years at Northwestern University, was summarily “canceled” from his associations with the school.
“There has been some criticism recently from conservatives, including some conservatives on Fox News, about the fact that first lady-to-be Jill Biden goes by the title doctor,” Wallace said during an interview with incoming White House press secretary Jen Psaki.
“I wonder, what is the Bidens’ reaction to that, especially given the fact that so many people over the years — I think of Dr. Henry Kissinger, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King — have gone by the title doctor even though they’re not medical doctors and nobody seems to have made a fuss about that,” he continued.
Chris Wallace takes a not-so-veiled shot at his Fox colleagues who have whined about Jill Biden using “Dr.,” noting that other prominent figures like Henry Kissinger and MLK used the title “even though they are not medical doctors and nobody seems to have made a fuss about that”. pic.twitter.com/ElIy4PAHKA
— Justin Baragona (@justinbaragona) December 20, 2020
“That’s exactly right, Chris,” Psaki responded after Wallace nicely teed up her answer.
“It’s a bit perplexing to me and I’m sure to millions of Americans that with thousands of people dying every day of COVID and with millions out of work that anyone would wake up in the morning and decide that the focus they need to have, the way they contribute to society that day, is to question whether or not Dr. Jill Biden, someone who is still teaching, who has a Ph.D. in education, should be called a doctor or not,” she said.
“Of course she should, as anyone who works through that challenging process of getting a Ph.D.,” she continued. “It’s a really silly, sexist, and absurd conversation that’s happening in society and I appreciate you asking me about it.”
It should be noted that in 2007, Biden earned a doctorate in education (Ed.D.) from the University of Delaware, not a Ph.D. The differences are slight, but there are differences. Essentially, while both are doctoral degrees, an Ed.D. is a professional degree meant to prepare a student for a career working in the field, while a Ph.D. in education is a technical degree meant to prepare a student for further research and teaching in the field.
Wallace’s comments were quite clearly intended as an exhortation to conservative critics, including fellow Fox News host Tucker Carlson, who last week called Biden “borderline illiterate” in a segment on his show.
“We actually read her dissertation this week, the very document that made her, quote, a doctor,” Carlson said in a monologue. “And what did we discover when we did that? … Dr. Jill needs reading glasses. Either that or she’s borderline illiterate. There are typos everywhere, including in the first graph of the introduction. Dr. Jill can’t write. She can’t really think clearly either.”