Sexist? Matt Lauer Called Out Over Questions to GM's Female CEO
NBC's Matt Lauer has sparked some controversy for questions that he posed to General Motors CEO Mary Barra, asking her if she thought she got the job because she's a woman and a mom.
“I want to tread lightly here, but you’ve heard it, you’ve heard it in Congress and you’ve heard it in the headlines. … But there are some people who are speculating that you got this job as a woman and as a mom because people within General Motors knew this company was in for a very tough time, and as a woman and a mom you could present a softer face and a softer image for the company as it goes through this horrible episode. Does it make sense or does it make you bristle?" asked Lauer, referring to the company's struggles amid a string of recalls and deaths being linked to faulty ignition switches.
He then went on to ask Barra if she feels she can be a good mother and run GM successfully.
Barra was friendly in her responses, saying she believes she was selected for the job based on her qualifications. She then answered that she can be a good CEO and mother at the same time, adding she has a "supportive husband" and kids.
Lauer later answered the allegations of sexism on Facebook, explaining that he was asking the questions based on a Forbes piece in which Barra wrote about the difficulties of balancing her high-profile job with being a parent.
“It’s an issue almost every parent including myself can relate to,” Lauer wrote. “If a man had publicly said something similar after accepting a high-level job, I would have asked him exactly the same thing. … [Work-life balance is] an important topic, one that I’m familiar with personally, and I hope we can continue the discussion.”
On Outnumbered this afternoon, #oneluckyguy Mike Huckabee, called Lauer's questions "sexist" and "inappropriate." He said when he was governor of Arkansas, no one ever asked him if he could do the job and raise his kids.
Sandra Smith said the interview got her "all riled up," pointing back to an interview between Lauer and Ford's Alan Mulally in which Lauer never asked about Mulally being able to run Ford and be a good father to five children. She argued that these questions are simply not asked to male executives.
Kirsten Powers called Lauer's defense of the question an "excuse."
"Matt Lauer has three children and he's running all over the world. And nobody has any problem with that," said Powers.
Huckabee said Lauer should have worded the questions differently, arguing that by using the phrase "as a woman" or "as a mom" he crossed the line and made it a "gender issue."
Watch the full discussion above.