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Jill Biden responds to column asking her to drop 'Dr.' title

The incoming first lady called the controversial Wall Street Journal column a surprise, but said she’s found a bright side in the wake of the situation.
/ Source: TODAY

Jill Biden has something to say about the recent Wall Street Journal op-ed that sparked backlash for asking her to “drop the Dr.” title.

The future first lady and President-elect Joe Biden paid a visit to “Late Show With Stephen Colbert” Thursday night, where she spoke about the controversial piece and explained why the honorific matters to her.

Last week, Journal writer Joseph Epstein addressed his column to her, writing, “Madame First Lady — Mrs. Biden — Jill — kiddo: a bit of advice ... Any chance you might drop the ‘Dr.’ before your name? ‘Dr. Jill Biden’ sounds and feels fraudulent, not to say a touch comic.”

The 69-year-old attended the University of Delaware, Villanova University and West Chester University, earning a bachelor’s degree, two master’s degrees and, in 2007, a doctoral degree, making her a doctor of education.

"That was such a surprise," she told Colbert of the op-ed. "You know, I think it was really the tone of it. ... He called me 'kiddo.'”

And while that might have seemed diminishing on its own, so did the entire premise of the piece, as she added, “One of the things that I’m most proud of is my doctorate. I worked so hard for it.”

It’s a source of pride for her husband, as well.

“I got to hand her the doctorate myself, onstage at the University of Delaware,” the president-elect said. “She had two masters degrees, and she kept going to school, all the time, while teaching at night.”

Colbert suggested that the op-ed could be seen as a backhanded compliment of sorts, given that she was being criticized for using a title associated with something that most would consider an impressive accomplishment.

But she found a different bright side in the wake of it all.

“Look at all the people who came out in support of me,” she said with a smile. “I am so grateful, and I was just overwhelmed by how gracious people were to me."

Those people included two former first ladies — Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton — as well as the incoming second gentleman, Doug Emhoff.

And Biden is still putting her doctorate to good use, as she teaches at Northern Virginia Community College. She plans to continue doing so, which will make her the first first lady with a full-time, paying job outside the White House.

The Late Show with Stephen Colbert
President-elect Joe Biden and the future first lady visited "The Late Show With Stephen Colbert" Thursday and tackled the topic of a controversial op-ed.Chris Licht / CBS

“It’s hard for me to think of it in historic terms, I guess, because I taught all eight years while I was second lady,” she said, when Colbert asked about the distinction.

She also said she’s looking forward to attending to duties as first lady, but firmly added, “I’m going to teach as well.”

(Editor's Note: In written stories, NBC News only uses the title "Dr." before the names of individuals who are doctors of medicine.)