Matt Lauer Alienates Working Moms Everywhere By Asking a Stupid Question
The TODAY show's Matt Lauer interviewed General Motors CEO Mary Barra last Thursday, and he didn't hold back on the tough questions—asking the car company's chief about whether there will be additional recalls, whether there was "something criminal going on" at the company, if there was a cover-up involving the ignition switch issue, if cost-cutting played a role, and what it was like for her to talk to grieving family members who lost loved ones due to the problem. Ouch.
But it was a different, more personal, question from the interview that's still making news. See the partial transcript, posted by Time.com's Charlotte Alter:
LAUER: You're a mom, I mentioned, two kids. You said in an interview not long ago that your kids told you they're going to hold you accountable for one job and that is being a mom. BARRA: Correct. (smiling.) LAUER: Given the pressures of this job at General Motors, can you do both well? BARRA: You know, I think I can. I have a great team, we're on the right path...I have a wonderful family, a supportive husband and I'm pretty proud of the way my kids are supporting me in this.
Alter ended her post with this: "How's this for a question: Can Matt Lauer be a good dad and host the Today Show? Let's discuss."
But plenty of commenters called bs on that explanation, including the author of the Forbes article Lauer referenced, Joann Muller, who wrote that she "never felt compelled to ask if a 'mom' could handle being CEO, because I already knew the answer."
Sorry, Matt, but I just don't believe you would have asked a man this question. In fact, I think you've probably had ample opportunity to do so in your years as a journalist, yet I've never seen that headline come out of one of your interviews. (And I trust that it would, indeed, be a headline: Newsflash! Male CEO Asked if He Can Be a Good Dad and Run a Company at the Same Time!")
It's true that Barra herself has brought up the work-life balance issue—but frankly, given the seriousness of the issues facing GM right now, how is her personal life even relevant? How Barra performs in the job of CEO of a huge, public multinational company—one that makes products that can potentially affect the lives of every single person on the road—is certainly my business. But how she's doing in the job of mom? That's hers.