The 'Today' co-host, who came under fire after asking Barra if she could do her job well while also being a good mother, says he 'would have asked' a male CEO the same thing.
Matt Lauer has spoken up after being labeled "sexist" following an interview with GM chief executive Mary Barra. During the interview aired on "Today" Thursday, June 26, he asked her if she could balance her job and her role as a mother.
Lauer has been criticized for his question. Think Progress' Bryce Covert wrote, "Lauer himself is a father of three children, but that hasn't stopped him from doing his job, which has included, among other things, traveling to 50 locations for the 'Where in the World Is Matt Lauer' segment, or standing in for Bob Costas to host the Sochi [O]lympics in Russia."
Business columnist Tom Walsh wrote on the Detroit Free Press, "Would he ever contemplate asking Alan Mulally at Ford, or Sergio Marchionne at FiatChrysler, if they could be a good CEO and a good parent at the same time?"
Jalopnik's Patrick George also reacted, "Come on, Matt. Aren't we past this kind of s**t by now? Besides the fact that no reporter would probably ever ask a male CEO that question, it's just completely irrelevant."
Lauer then took to his Facebook page to defend himself. Noting that it had "started an important conversation," he explained, "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.' "
He continued, "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," he added, referring to a segment on "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."