NEW YORK (AP) — Matt Lauer has no regrets asking General Motors CEO Mary Barra about balancing work and motherhood, saying he sees it as an issue that affects all working parents regardless of their gender.
The host of NBC's "Today" show said Friday he'd welcome the same question if it were put to him. He noted that he missed his son's 13th birthday to be in Detroit for the Barra interview.
He struck a nerve in Thursday's live interview with a question criticized as sexist — no small issue for the host of a network show where women are the bulk of the audience.
"This is one of the major conversations of our generation," Lauer, 56, told The Associated Press. "I view it very differently. I view it not as a gender issue, but as a work-life balance issue."
The question came at the end of a two-part interview primarily about GM's response to safety issues. At first, Lauer asked about reports that one reason Barra got her job was because she could put forth a softer face and image for the company at a difficult time.
He then referenced a Forbes magazine article where Barra said she felt bad about missing her son's junior prom. The boy told her that being mom was the one job he'd hold her accountable for. Lauer asked, "Given the pressure at General Motors, can you do both (jobs) well?"
Lauer had taken to Facebook to defend himself, explaining what inspired the question. Many people who commented on his post weren't buying it, including the author of the Forbes piece, who said she never felt compelled to ask Barra if she felt capable of doing her job.