This post has been updated.
Today Show host Matt Lauer on Thursday asked General Motors CEO Mary Barra if she felt she could run a company and be a good mother during an interview about the company’s controversial recalls.
“I want to tread lightly here,” Lauer said before launching into a question about why Barra got the CEO job, noting that she is extremely qualified.
“But some people 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?” he asked.
“Well it’s absolutely not true,” Barra responded. “I believe I was selected for this job based on my qualifications. We dealt with this issue — when the senior leadership of this company knew about this issue, we dealt with this issue.”
Lauer then asked Barra about her children, noting that her kids have said they will hold her “accountable for one job and that is being a mom.”
“Given the pressures of this job at General Motors, can you do both well?” he asked.
“You know, I think I can. I have a great team, we’re on the right path,” Barra replied. “I have a wonderful family, a supportive husband and I’m pretty proud of the way my kids are supporting me in this.”
Lauer on Thursday afternoon defended his question to Barra about balancing her at work and with her family. He said that he asked her about her role as a mom in response to a Forbes story in which Barra says that her kids said, “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,” Lauer wrote in a Facebook post.
He then argued that if a male CEO had discussed his struggle with work-family balance, Lauer would have followed up with him on it.
“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,” Lauer wrote.
The Today host has gotten into hot water before for the way he interviewed women. In 2012, Lauer interviewed actress Anne Hathaway after she was photographed getting out of car without wearing underwear.
“Nice to see you. Seen a lot of you lately,” he began before launching into a question about what she learned from the incident.
Watch the clip via NBC:
[H/t Yahoo News]