Jill Biden didn’t actually do anything and the mainstream media’s jumping to her defense. Melania Trump read to sick children and the media’s jumping to get away from the story.
But first, Jill Biden. Joe Biden’s wife is in the habit of calling herself “Dr.” Jill Biden, something author and editor Joseph Epstein took issue with in a Wall Street Journal column last week.
“‘Dr. Jill Biden’ sounds and feels fraudulent, not to say a touch comic,” he wrote. “Your degree is, I believe, an Ed.D., a doctor of education, earned at the University of Delaware through a dissertation with the unpromising title ‘Student Retention at the Community College Level: Meeting Students’ Needs.’ 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 great scheme of things, Jill Biden’s courtesy title doesn’t matter much, although I’d like to point out my wife is a Ph.D and not only refuses to call herself “Dr.” in any context that doesn’t involve her field of academic expertise but has unconcealed contempt for those who do.
Unless you have strong feelings about these titles and how they should be used — like my wife — you probably shouldn’t have cared. Many in the mainstream media, of course, did.
“I worked with Dr. Jill Biden when I was a community college student. Her degree is more than a title — it’s inspiration for the women and underrepresented students she teaches,” one windy headline from Business Insider declared.
Keli Goff, an American journalist writing in the U.K. Guardian, claimed Epstein’s piece was “[a] sexist op-ed [which] attacked Biden for using the title she earned with her doctorate” under the headline, “Dr Jill Biden won’t be a ‘traditional’ US first lady. Some men are threatened by that.”
The Guardian piece was Monday, the Business Insider piece Tuesday. On Tuesday, it just so happened, first lady Melania Trump read a story to patients at a children’s hospital in Washington, refusing to break a tradition that goes back to the Truman administration even in the midst of a pandemic. Naturally, the act itself got little attention.
In an article previewing the visit, The Associated Press reported that Trump “planned her fourth and final holiday visit as first lady to Children’s National on Tuesday, continuing a tradition begun more than 70 years ago by first lady Bess Truman.”
“The hospital tweaked the holiday program to safely accommodate the visit,” the news service reported.
“The first lady will still sit in a chair in front of a towering Christmas tree in the hospital’s atrium. But she’ll read to a small, socially distanced group of children rather than a big crowd of patients and their families, hospital staffers and singers and dancers.”
“During each of my visits to Children’s National, I have felt the warmth that these brave children bring, seen the joy in their eyes and the smiles on their faces,” the first lady told the AP in a statement.
“It always reminds me that the spirit of Christmas is truly alive in each and every one of these courageous children.”
The story was “Oliver the Ornament Meets Marley & Joan and Abbey.” The reading was broadcast by OAN:
Oh, but the liberal media eventually did find a way to start caring about the visit. Here’s the headline CNN chose to cover it: “Melania Trump breaks children’s hospital rules by taking her mask off to read to patients.”
“The first lady arrived in the hospital’s main atrium wearing a mask. When she took her seat in front of a tree, she removed the mask. Though she practiced social distancing, the hospital’s policy specifically requires all visitors to wear a mask,” CNN reported.
That’s the kind of hall-monitor “journalism” CNN stoops to when it comes to the covering all things Trump. While the hospital’s regulations do require masks “at all times,” a hospital spokeswoman said the event complied with District of Columbia protocols.
“Our number one priority at Children’s National Hospital is the safety of our patients, families and employees. Under DC Health regulations, wearing a mask is not required when a person is giving a speech for broadcast or an audience, provided no one is within six feet of the speaker,” hospital spokeswoman Diana Troese told CNN.
“In the case of today’s visit which was broadcast to our 325 patients, while the First Lady did remove her mask while she read a story, she was more than 12 feet away from others in our large atrium. All other people in that space were wearing masks. The remainder of her visit, she wore a mask.”
The White House also clarified matters.
“Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the event was limited in numbers of in-person participants and all guests were required to wear face masks and adhere to social distancing. The visit followed the hospital’s mask protocols for public speakers, based on the District of Columbia health guidance, that wearing a mask is not required when a person is giving a speech for broadcast or an audience, provided no one is within six feet of the speaker,” it said in a statement, according to CNN.
“Throughout the holiday program, the First Lady was more than twelve feet away from others in the four-story atrium. Today’s visit, broadcast to 325 inpatient hospital rooms, followed these guidelines.”
Bad as CNN was, at least it had more tact than Refinery29: “Melania Trump Doesn’t Really Care About Hospitalized Children, Do You?” read the headline on a viciously snarky piece.
Here’s the first lady, keeping up a 70-year-old tradition in the midst of a brutal pandemic — and, according to the hospital, conducting the visit safely. It’s heartwarming and humanizing in a season where we could use it.
But this is 2020. The first lady removing her mask in a safe environment while reading to sick children is only worth covering because she removed her mask. Almost no one noticed the part about her carrying on a vital tradition in the midst of challenging circumstances, much less the effect it might have had on the kids it was created for.
Meanwhile, far more attention was paid to defending Jill Biden from an opinion piece, making an arguably valid point, which was deemed sexist although it barely mentioned her sex.
Merry Christmas, everyone.
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