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WATCH: Mika to WSJ, 'You owe Dr. Jill Biden an apology'

A new WSJ opinion column called on incoming first lady Dr. Jill Biden to drop the 'Dr.' from her name and also referred to her as 'kiddo.' Know Your Value founder Mika Brzezinski says the paper owes Dr. Biden an apology.
Know Your Value founder and "Morning Joe" co-host Mika Brzezinski with incoming First Lady Jill Biden.
Know Your Value founder and "Morning Joe" co-host Mika Brzezinski with incoming First Lady Jill Biden.Miller Hawkins

After The Wall Street Journal took aim at Dr. Jill Biden’s title in an op-ed over the weekend, Mika Brzezinski fired back on "Morning Joe" during the 6 a.m. hour Monday.

“The piece is quite a dubious trifecta,” Brzezinski said, “An attack on Jill Biden's doctorate that managed to be petty, elitist and misogynistic all at once.”

The opinion piece, titled “Is There A Doctor in the White House? Not If You Need An M.D.,” blasts the former Second Lady for using the professional title she earned in graduate school and calls on her to drop it. Biden is preparing to move back into the White House as First Lady in January.

“The staggeringly sexist argument to a highly accomplished 69-year-old woman was to tell the ‘kiddo’ who received two master’s as well as a doctorate that she shouldn't use the term ‘Doctor,’ unless she delivered a baby,” Brzezinski said on Morning Joe, highlighting the derisive tone and backward logic used in the column to diminish Biden’s accomplishments.

“‘Dr. Jill Biden’ sounds and feels fraudulent, not to say a touch comic,” columnist Joseph Epstein writes in the piece. “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 searing op-ed, which was published online on Friday and appeared in the Sunday print addition of the paper, sparked immediate outrage online and is being slammed as sexist. Biden holds a doctorate in education and two master’s degrees from the University of Delaware.

Epstein, a former professor at Northwestern University, argued that “a wise man once said that no one should call himself ‘Dr.’ unless he has delivered a child” and then immediately urged Biden, whom he derisively refers to as “kiddo.” to “forthwith drop the doc.”

“In contemporary universities, in the social sciences and humanities, calling oneself Dr. is thought bush league,” Epstein says.

“I’m questioning what planet we're on at this point, as I'm reading it,” Brzezinski said of her reaction to Epstein’s unprovoked, illogical, and gendered take-down. “We don't even have to ask if this would have been written about a man.”

Pointing out that The Wall Street Journal embraces the use of the title “Dr.” among men who have in fact not delivered babies, but have earned their doctorate degrees — including her father, former National Security Adviser Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski, and former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger — Mika Brzezinski said that “Epstein’s standard, which the Wall Street Journal gave voice to, defies the Journal’s own standards.” She pointed out that The New York Times and The Washington Post also use the title “Dr.” for people who have earned doctorate degrees.

“Maybe they were looking for clickbait,” Brzezinski theorized. “It was very lowbrow.”

She took issue with Epstein’s depiction of the Ph.D. as having lost prestige due to the “erosion of seriousness and the relaxation of standards” in the study of the humanities. Biden earned her Ed.D. degree, making her a doctor in education, 15 years ago at the age of 55. By Epstein’s account, this is long after the days when students suffered through their exams in terror as a secretary — whom he denotes as female — sits outside the exam room with “a pitcher of water and a glass on her desk” for the candidates who fainted.

As Second Lady, Biden continued teaching classes at Northern Virginia Community College while her husband served as Vice President, making her the most prominent political spouse to continue her own professional career. Shuttling between the campus and the Naval Observatory, she often changed into a cocktail dress or a suit in a school bathroom to rush to White House events after class, and graded papers on Air Force Two while traveling in her capacity as Second Lady. She has said she plans to continue teaching English and writing at Northern Virginia Community College next year, making her the first First Lady to continue her professional career. (She was also the first Second Lady to do so.) She will also be one of only a handful of First Ladies who is also a union member.

“Let's just be clear about the true worth of Dr. Biden's title,” Brzezinski said. “She never gave up on her career and her dreams, no matter what, even after raising children, and continuing to support her husband's career as well.”

“Dr. Biden is an educator who chose to teach, even during the eight years that she served as Second Lady of the United States. In fact, she continued teaching when her husband was running for the Senate, for the vice presidency, and for the presidency. She would fly to Iowa and fly back and make it to class,” Brzezinski said. “I know Jill Biden well. She's always wanted her staff members to call her Jill. They call her Dr. Biden, out of respect for a highly accomplished woman who deserves much more than the condescending column that The Wall Street Journal stooped to publish this weekend. This is a woman who knows her value, and with her in the White House she will help so many others do the same.”