Matt Lauer drew fire on Thursday after he asked General Motors CEO Mary Barra if she could run the company and be a good mother at the same time.
“You said in an interview not long ago that your kids said they’re going to hold you accountable for one job, and that is being a mom,” he asked Barra, the first female CEO of the auto giant. “Given the pressure at General Motors, can you do both well?”
Barra did not respond by asking Lauer whether, given the pressures of his own rather time-consuming job, he could also be a good father.
“I think I can,” she said. “I have a great team...and I have a wonderful family and a supportive husband, and I’m pretty proud of my kids the way they’re supporting me in this."
This line of questioning came after he asked Barra whether she thought she'd gotten the job because GM wanted to present a "softer face" to the world. (She said no.)
Lauer's query did not sit well with some:
Seriously, boo on @MLauer for asking a woman CEO if she can do the job bc she's a mom; don't remember him asking any dads if they can do job
— Neera Tanden (@neeratanden) June 26, 2014
— Matt Yglesias (@mattyglesias) June 26, 2014
— David Shepardson (@davidshepardson) June 26, 2014
UPDATE: Lauer responded to the criticism on his Facebook page:
As part of the interview, I referenced this Forbes article (http://www.forbes.com/sites/joannmuller/2014/05/28/exclusive-inside-mary-barras-urgent-mission-to-fix-gm/) 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.