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Matt Lauer says his question to GM boss wasn't sexist

By David Bauder

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.

Neera Tanden, president of the Washington-based Center for American Progress, said she'd love it if Lauer started asking male executives the same question. Women hear it frequently, and it perpetuates a double standard when Lauer brings it up, said Tanden, who tweeted Thursday that women should stop watching Lauer.

"It's a terrible message to young women," she said.

Lauer said he definitely would ask that question of a male executive he had seen publicly questioning his ability to do it all.

"The reason I think that is so important is I am that father," he said. "As I was sitting interviewing Mary Barra about that topic, it was my son's 13th birthday, and I'm sitting in Detroit missing his becoming a teenager. I worry about that every single day: Am I being a good father? I don't think this is an unfair question."

He said he doesn't resent the criticism.

"I take the harsh criticism along with the compliments," he said. "How could I complain about the comments I get and still reserve the right to ask these questions? People have the right to say whatever they want."

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officejet1238 June 27 2014 at 2:58 PM

Its time for MATT too go wont miss you.
Your pants are getting to big for you.

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1 reply
Brad officejet1238 June 28 2014 at 8:16 AM

Yes,I am sure you could do a much better job. You don't even know where to use "to", or "too" correctly.

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partsautomall June 27 2014 at 2:09 PM

country is getting way to politically correct

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1 reply
gogayu partsautomall June 27 2014 at 3:17 PM

Really? how does a male balance his work and life? never heard anyone asked before?

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1 reply
bentbouy1 gogayu June 27 2014 at 5:27 PM

You might want to read the interview - He knows it was bad and apologize.

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mcdparker June 27 2014 at 5:11 PM

Matt Lauer is a piece of ****. He is the reason why I don't watch the today show. He try to over talk everyone. He need to be axed. He is the reason Ann is not on the show anymore.

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1 reply
ogledude mcdparker June 28 2014 at 2:06 AM

ann curry was really bad, look whats she doing now hiding in new zealand and iran, basically getting paid for nothing, meredith is retired and working harder than ann, dont blame it on matt, ann is just lazy and has no personality

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1 reply
hugh4u2 ogledude June 28 2014 at 5:18 AM

your a real dumbazzzzzzzzzzzz hater aren't you? matt is lazy he works a few days a week a few hours a day. mostly like your lazy butt.

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supermolar June 27 2014 at 2:07 PM

all men are sexists
all whites are racists
all straight people are homophobes
and on
and on
and on
This is how people with social/political agendas stifle free and open discussion-label people as evil in some way so that they keep their mouths shut

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1 reply
Shirley supermolar June 27 2014 at 4:57 PM

This is all so stupid and you must be, too, to say such a thing. All whites are not racists and all straight people are not homophobes. I am not and am definelely a white person, the last time I checked.

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1 reply
KATHY&BILL Shirley June 27 2014 at 8:31 PM

I think you need to read this again.

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tree9616 June 27 2014 at 7:00 PM

I've never been impressed by Lauer, especially since he had to do with the demotion of Ann Curry.

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coopdabomb June 27 2014 at 2:57 PM

I don't think it was sexist, just stupid.

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Debydoo June 27 2014 at 4:11 PM

Him and Katie COuric in the same IDIOT BOAT----

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john June 27 2014 at 3:46 PM

dam funy now if it had been a rep. person all hell be breAKING LOOSE.. BUT SENCE HES JUST lIBRAL HES GETTING OFF EASY COMPAIRD to what they be doing to a conserivtave !!!
your all sexest and all full of BS racesim along with politcally corectness just how your Progresive pupet maters want !!!!

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3 replies
Patricia,,,,, June 27 2014 at 5:53 PM

He asked her several question that she didn't answer.. Instead she just skirted the question by saying nothing anyone wanted to hear...I don't know why Matt didn't say "You haven't answered my question" instead he has not guts to make her answer the question....

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1 reply
rjen164497 Patricia,,,,, June 27 2014 at 6:43 PM

He should have asked her why she is a lousy CEO.

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3 replies
Gregory June 27 2014 at 3:38 PM

Matt asked a good question! I work 3 jobs! and underpaid. She makes big bucks, makes her own schedules, has staff and perks, and her family. How does she balance that out!
Working people (men and women) want to know.

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1 reply
Jean Gregory June 28 2014 at 2:20 AM

Lauer is a nightmare. He needs to go.. He should have been gone years ago. Can't stand his arrogance and his stupidity.

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