Today show host Matt Lauer found himself under fire on Thursday after an exclusive interview with General Motors CEO Mary Barra, in which he asked her if she thought it would be possible for her to be a good mom while facing the pressure of running one of the biggest companies in America.
The morning-show host posed the question in regards to a quote Barra made about missing her son's junior prom. She said, "My kids told me the one job they are going to hold me accountable for is 'Mom.'"
"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," Lauer began. He then asked, "Given the pressures of this job at General Motors, can you do both well?"
Barra responded, "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."
Lauer also asked Barra to respond to comments that she had been appointed to the CEO position in order to give a maternal image to GM, which is currently going through protracted legal battles and vehicle recalls.
"I believe I was selected for this job based on my qualifications," Barra replied.
Following the interview, the web exploded with critical comments launched at Lauer, calling his question sexiest in regards to women in the professional landscape. Would he have posed the same questions to a male?
A few of the tweets read:
Hey, #MattLauer, can I ask if you're a terrible father because you ask gender-biased questions during news interviews? Just wonderin'— Denise Sakaki (@JauntyMagpie) June 27, 2014
Lauer responded to the criticism on his Facebook page, writing:
"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."
Do you find Lauer's question sexiest? Sound off in the comments.