In a heavily-promoted interview, NBC's "Today Show" host Matt Lauer made news of his own when he asked General Motor CEO Mary Barra, whether — "given the pressures of the job" — she could be a good boss and mother at the same time.
Barra calmly responded that she could, noting that "all previous GM CEOs that I've known had children" and she could only recall "only a couple of occasions where they were ever asked how they balanced the roles of father and executive."
That wasn't the only question that landed Lauer in the middle of a heated gender debate
He also asked Barra, the first female to lead a major automaker, whether she was hired because she is a woman
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"I want to tread lightly here. You've heard this, you heard it in Congress. You got this job because you're hugely qualified, 30 years in this company a variety of different jobs. But there are some people who are speculating that you also got this job because 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 image and softer face for this company as it goes through this horrible episode. Does it make sense or does it make you bristle?" Lauer asked.
"Well, that is absolutely not true,” she responded, adding that "I believe I was selected for this job based on my qualifications.”
The questions drew immediate attention.
Detroit Free Press business columnist Tom Walsh
responded with an opinion piece in which he wondered whether Lauer would "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?"
Neera Tanden of the liberal Center for American Progress took to Twitter to respond to Lauer's question:
While the interview generated immediate feedback on Twitter and social media, NBC only briefly addressed Lauer's questions
in a story on the interview.
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