DETROIT (CBS Detroit) – Was it a harmless question or a sexist slip?
Network TV news anchor Matt Lauer faced some online outrage Thursday after he asked GM CEO Mary Barra about being a mom while doing her job.
“You’re a mom I mentioned; two kids. You said in an interview not too long ago that your…kids said they’re gonna hold you accountable for one job, and that is being a mom,” said Lauer.
“Given the pressures of this job at General Motors, can you do both well?”
Barra responded that she believes she can do it with a great team and a supportive family.
Dozens of people took to Twitter to slam Lauer; one going so far as calling his questioning “misogyny in action.”
The primary question being asked of Lauer was: Would he have asked a male CEO the same?
Lauer said that yes, he would have, when he responded to his critics later in the day via his Facebook page.
“A busy few days of travel from London to Detroit… I’m writing this update now from Denver. Thanks for all of the comments and feedback around our interview with GM CEO Mary Barra this morning. I wanted to share some thoughts around one of the questions that has started an important conversation.
“As part of the interview, I referenced this Forbes article where Barra talked about the challenge of balancing work life and home life. She said, ‘My kids told me the one job they are going to hold me accountable for is mom.’ She had just accepted the job as the first female CEO of a major American automotive company, and in the article she said that she felt horrible when she missed her son’s junior prom. It’s an issue almost any parent including myself can relate to. If a man had publicly said something similar after accepting a high-level job, I would have asked him exactly the same thing. A couple weeks ago, we did a series on “Modern Dads” and the challenges of fatherhood today. Work-life balance was one of our focuses. It’s an important topic, one that I’m familiar with personally, and I hope we can continue the discussion.”
Here are just a few Tweets regarding the issue:
In the same Today Show interview, Barra dismissed talk that she — as a woman — was chosen CEO by GM board members so she could present a softer image during troubled times.
“It’s absolutely not true,” Barra told Lauer. “I believe I was selected based on my qualifications…”
Barra also said the company will do right by the people who were hurt or lost family members in crashes related to a faulty ignition switch.
Fifteen people were fired over the handling of the defect, which eventually prompted a massive recall of GM small cars. Barra said she does not expect any more firings, but she wouldn’t comment as to whether or not she thinks any criminal charges will be filed.