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More on the ‘Dr. Ford’ honorific controversy – Publications – AEI

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AEI More on the ‘Dr. Ford’ honorific controversy As a follow-up to my recent CD post “What’s up with the media’s ubiquitous use of the term ‘Dr. Ford’?” that generated more than 170 comments, here are some excerpts from today’s op-ed in the Wall Street Journal by Canadian writer Rondi Adamson titled “Is There a Doctorate in the House?“: ‘If you can’t write a prescription, you shouldn’t be called ‘Doctor.’ ” So said my late and beloved brother, Alan, many years ago. He had a doctorate in mathematics. He often told me that even being called “Professor” struck him as silly, except in a classroom. He saw those who insisted on such honorifics as preening or insecure. I thought about Alan during the Kavanaugh confirmation madness. Christine Blasey Ford was scrupulously referred to by media and

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AEI
More on the ‘Dr. Ford’ honorific controversy

As a follow-up to my recent CD post “What’s up with the media’s ubiquitous use of the term ‘Dr. Ford’?” that generated more than 170 comments, here are some excerpts from today’s op-ed in the Wall Street Journal by Canadian writer Rondi Adamson titled “Is There a Doctorate in the House?“:

‘If you can’t write a prescription, you shouldn’t be called ‘Doctor.’ ” So said my late and beloved brother, Alan, many years ago. He had a doctorate in mathematics. He often told me that even being called “Professor” struck him as silly, except in a classroom. He saw those who insisted on such honorifics as preening or insecure.

I thought about Alan during the Kavanaugh confirmation madness. Christine Blasey Ford was scrupulously referred to by media and members of the Senate Judiciary Committee as “Dr. Ford.” Failure to comply was frowned upon. The NPR ombudsman issued a statement explaining the network’s policy of not using “Doctor” to describe someone who isn’t a physician, dentist or veterinarian. For some, it apparently rankled that the nominee was referred to as “Judge” on the air, while Ms. Ford’s credentials weren’t given their due. For others, according to the ombudsman, it was proof of “insidious bias.”

Ms. Ford didn’t strike me as someone who would insist on such treatment. It was clear that her supporters pummeled social media with the honorific to support her, to give her weight, to counter the “Judge” before “Kavanaugh.” Many in media followed suit, presumably to stave off accusations of partiality, sexism or disrespect, and to avert having to issue an NPR-style explanation for their lack of deference.

This isn’t the first time I’ve noticed a “Doctor” creeping in where no medical degree exists. Jill Biden is often referred to as Dr. Biden, and there’s always Dr. Phil. Interestingly, I don’t remember Lynne Cheney, with her doctorate in 19th-century literature, being referred to as Dr. Cheney. Some television pundits include “Ph.D.” after their names, as though that gives more gravitas to their observations about immigration policy and Melania Trump’s pith helmet.

MP: One of the only politicians that I’m aware of who correctly referred to Christine Blasey Ford as “Ms. Ford” (as did National Public Radio and the Washington Post) is Sen. Tom Cotton , see his Face the Nation interview below with John Dickerson:

More on the ‘Dr. Ford’ honorific controversy
Mark Perry

Mark Perry
Mark J. Perry is concurrently a scholar at AEI and a professor of economics and finance at the University of Michigan’s Flint campus. He is best known as the creator and editor of the popular economics blog Carpe Diem. At AEI, Perry writes about economic and financial issues for American.com and the AEIdeas blog.

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