Michelle Obama has spoken out to defend ‘brilliant’ Jill Biden in a lengthy Instagram tribute, days after a ‘misogynistic’ Wall Street Journal writer called the 69-year-old ‘kiddo’ and said that her doctor title ‘sounds and feels fraudulent’.
The former First Lady, 56, penned a gushing post about the wife of President-elect Joe Biden, praising her work as Second Lady during Obama’s presidency, as well as her accomplishments as a ‘teacher, mother, wife, and friend’.
She also hit out at those who cast ‘doubt’ on the achievements of ‘professional women’; although she did not name him, Obama appeared to be making a thinly-veiled swipe at WSJ writer Joseph Epstein, who prompted furious controversy on Friday when he published a piece in which he called for Biden to ‘drop’ her doctor title.
Speaking out: Michelle Obama penned a gushing tribute to Jill Biden and her many accomplishments – after a WSJ writer said her doctor title ‘feels fraudulent’
Praise: The former First Lady, 56, praised Biden’s work in the White House as Second Lady, and spotlighted her roles as a ‘teacher, mother, wife, and friend’
‘For eight years, I saw Dr. Jill Biden do what a lot of professional women do — successfully manage more than one responsibility at a time, from her teaching duties to her official obligations in the White House to her roles as a mother, wife, and friend,’ Obama wrote alongside an image of herself with Biden.
The mother-of-two went on to note that Biden is the latest in a long line of ‘professional women’ whose ‘accomplishments’ are met with ‘skepticism, even derision’ from ‘weak’ people, writing: ‘Right now, we’re all seeing what also happens to so many professional women, whether their titles are Dr., Ms., Mrs., or even First Lady: We’re doubted by those who choose the weakness of ridicule over the strength of respect.
‘And yet somehow, their words can stick — after decades of work, we’re forced to prove ourselves all over again.
‘Is this really the example we want to set for the next generation?’
Obama went on to praise Biden for ‘giving us a better example’, and gushed that ‘we could not ask for a better First Lady’.
‘She will be a terrific role model not just for young girls but for all of us, wearing her accomplishments with grace, good humor, and yes, pride,’ the mother-of-two concluded.
‘I’m thrilled that the world will see what I have come to know—a brilliant woman who has distinguished herself in her profession and with the life she lives every day, always seeking to lift others up, rather than tearing them down.’
Close: Obama and Biden, pictured in January 2017, formed a close friendship during Barack Obama’s eight-year presidency
Criticism: Obama noted that too many ‘professional women’ face ‘skepticism, even derision’ from people who ‘choose the weakness of ridicule over the strength of respect’
Obama and Biden are understood to have formed a close friendship during the eight years working they spent working alongside one another when their husbands were President and Vice President, from 2009 to 2017.
Biden will now take over the role that Obama held for that time, when she becomes First Lady in January.
Obama’s heartfelt social media tribute was shared hours after Biden herself hit back at Epstein, 83, on Twitter, where she wrote: ‘Together, we will build a world where the accomplishments of our daughters will be celebrated, rather than diminished.’
The columnist’s words sparked outrage on Friday – and saw Northwestern University, where he previously taught, publicly distancing themselves from Epstein, while branding his views ‘misogynistic’.
Epstein had previously taught at Northwestern, but the university was quick to note in a statement shared on Saturday that he has not taught a class there since 2003.
Epstein had been listed as an ’emeritus lecturer of English’ on the school’s website earlier Saturday, but the page had vanished later in the day.
‘While we firmly support academic freedom and freedom of expression, we do not agree with Mr Epstein’s opinion and believe the designation of doctor is well deserved by anyone who has earned a Ph.D., an Ed.D. or an M.D.,’ the statement reads.
‘Northwestern is firmly committed to equity, diversity and inclusion, and strongly disagrees with Mr Epstein’s misogynistic views.’
Fury: Biden also hit back at WSJ columnist Joseph Epstein on Twitter, writing, ‘We will build a world where the accomplishments of our daughters will be celebrated, rather than diminished
Controversy: Epstein, 83, labeled the future first lady, 69, ‘kiddo’ in a piece published on Friday in which he said she should ‘think about it and forthwith drop the doc’
Northwestern’s English Department also released a statement accusing him of casting ‘unmerited aspersion on Dr. Jill Biden’s rightful public claiming of her doctoral credentials and expertise.’
‘The Department rejects this opinion as well as the diminishment of anyone’s duly-earned degrees in any field, from any university,’ the statement said.
Biden holds a doctorate in education from the University of Delaware, which she earned in 2007, having already been awarded a bachelor’s degree and two master’s degrees.
During President-elect Biden‘s eight years serving as Vice President she was a full-time English professor at Northern Virginia Community College.
Epstein’s words sparked a fierce reaction online with singer Pink, actress Debra Messing as well as vice president elect Kamala Harris‘ husband Doug Emhoff and her spokesperson Michael LaRosa, all rushing to defend Biden.
Former White House photographer Pete Souza shared an image of Dr Biden on a golf buggy, calling the piece ‘ridiculous and misogynistic’ and adding: ‘The Dr. is on her way!’
LaRosa called the piece a ‘disgusting and sexist attack’ and said the paper should be ’embarrassed’ to print it.
He added: ‘If you had any respect for women at all you would remove this repugnant display of chauvinism from your paper and apologize to her.’
Biden, pictured with Joe and their kids, earned four degrees while raising a family: a bachelor’s degree, two master’s degrees, and a doctorate of education from the University of Delaware
Joe Biden’s communications director, Elizabeth Alexander, added: ‘Sexist and shameful. Be better @WSJ.’
And Harris’ husband Emhoff said: ‘This story would never have been written about a man.’
Dr Martin Luther King’s daughter Bernice tweeted: ‘Dear @DrBiden: My father was a non-medical doctor. And his work benefited humanity greatly. Yours does, too.’
The View host Meghan McCain said: ‘I am so sick of the way accomplished, educated, successful women like @DrBiden are talked about in the media by misogynistic men. BEYOND SO SICK OF IT.’
Singer Pink called the article ‘bulls***’ and actress Debra Messing tweeted: ‘What a disgusting display of misogyny. Your hatred for women is showing.’
And former presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg’s husband Chasten said: ‘The author could’ve used fewer words to just say ‘ya know in my day we didn’t have to respect women.’
In his piece ‘Is There a Doctor in the White House? Not if You Need an M.D.’, Epstein wrote: ‘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.’
‘In the social sciences and humanities, calling oneself Dr. is thought bush league.’
He also blasts honorary doctorates despite the fact Dr Biden holds two master’s degrees and a doctorate in education.
Backlash: The Wall Street Journal op-ed sparked fury online, with Kamala Harris’ husband Doug Emhoff insisting, ‘This story would never have been written about a man’
Criticism: Former White House photographer Pete Souza shared an image of Dr. Biden on a golf buggy, calling the piece ‘ridiculous and misogynistic’
Epstein also acknowledges that he ‘only has a B.A. in absentia from the University of Chicago’, adding: ‘I taught at Northwestern University for 30 years without a doctorate or any advanced degree.’
But Northwestern sought to distance themselves from Epstein, saying in a statement it disagreed with his ‘misogynistic views’, and adding: ‘Joseph Epstein was never a tenured professor at Northwestern and has not been a lecturer here since 2002.’
They also wiped his online profile from their website.
In 1970 Epstein was denounced after repeatedly using the N word and writing that the LGBTQ community was ‘afflicted without apparent cure’ in an essay for Harper’s Magazine, Newsweek reports
Jill has been married to the president elect for 43 years, becoming a stepmother to Beau and Hunter Biden, his two sons from his first marriage, after their mother and baby sister died in a car accident in 1972.
She has earned four degrees while raising her family. She has a bachelor’s degree and two master’s degrees, and earned a doctorate of education from the University of Delaware in 2007.
Prior to moving to Washington, D.C., she taught at a community college Delaware, at a public high school and at a psychiatric hospital for adolescents.
Writing in her memoir, she wrote: ‘Being a teacher is not what I do but who I am.’
In April 2019, she took a break from teaching for the first time since 1981 in order to help her husband on the campaign trail.
One of her most high profile appearances during the campaign came when she delivered a rousing speech from a classroom at the virtual Democratic Convention.