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

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Matt Lauer says his question to GM boss wasn't sexist
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 24: (EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE) Matt Lauer hosts an exclusive guest DJ session on SiriusXM's Classic Vinyl channel to celebrate the launch of TODAY Show Radio on SiriusXM on June 24, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Robin Marchant/Getty Images)
TODAY -- Pictured: (l-r) Tamron Hall, Natalie Morales, Savannah Guthrie, Matt Lauer and Al Roker appear on NBC News' 'Today' show on June 13, 2014 -- (Photo by: Peter Kramer/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images)
TODAY -- (l-r) Matt Lauer sits down with Pippa Middleton in her first-ever television interview -- (Photo by: Anthony Harvey/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images)
TODAY -- Pictured: (l-r) Dave Chappelle and Matt Lauer appear on NBC News' 'Today' show -- (Photo by: Peter Kramer/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images)
TODAY -- Pictured: (l-r) Tamron Hall, Savannah Guthrie, Matt Lauer and Al Roker appear on NBC News' 'Today' show -- (Photo by: Peter Kramer/NBC/NBC News Wire)
Matt Lauer appears on NBC's "Today" show on Friday, June14, 2013 in New York. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)
Matt Lauer dances during a performance by Psy on NBC's "Today" show on Friday, May 3, 2013 in New York. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)
TODAY -- Pictured: Matt Lauer appears on NBC News' 'Today' show -- (Photo by: Peter Kramer/NBC/NBC News Wire)
Matt Lauer, co-host of the NBC "Today" television program, appears with fellow co-host Savannah Guthrie during a segment of the show in New York's Rockefeller Center, Friday, March 29, 2013. A top NBC News executive said Wednesday the network is not considering replacing Matt Lauer as anchor of the "Today" show despite reports that Anderson Cooper of CNN was approached about the job. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
Matt Lauer, left, and Savannah Guthrie play skeeball during a promotional segment for the animated film "Turbo" on NBC's "Today" show on Tuesday, July 9, 2013 in New York. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)
Television host Matt Lauer skis on a pair of roller skis during a taping of the NBC Today NBC's Today Show Celebrates 100 Days To Sochi Olympics at on Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013 in New York. (Photo by Brad Barket/Invision/AP)
Matt Lauer arrives at the Elton John AIDS Foundation's 12th Annual "An Enduring Vision" benefit gala at Cipriani Wall Street on Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2013 in New York. (Photo by Carlo Allegri/Invision/AP)
Hosts Savannah Guthrie, left, Matt Lauer, center, and Carson Daly attend a taping of the NBC Today NBC's Today Show Celebrates 100 Days To Sochi Olympics on Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013 in New York. (Photo by Brad Barket/Invision/AP)
Matt Lauer appears on NBC's "Today" show on Friday, June 20, 2014 in New York. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)
NBC Today Show hosts Andrea Mitchell, Carson Daly, Natalie Morales, Al Roker, Matt Lauer and Savannah Guthrie attend the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner at the Washington Hilton Hotel, Saturday, May 3, 2014, in Washington. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)
In this Monday, March 10, 2014 photo provided by NBC News, Matt Lauer, right, talks with Dottie Sandusky, wife of former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, during an interview that aired on NBC's "Today" show on Wednesday, March 12, 2014. Sandusky said she "definitely" believes her husband is innocent despite being convicted of sexually abusing 10 boys and that the victims' financial gain was at play. (AP Photo/NBC News)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 22: Journalist Matt Lauer and singer Celine Dion pose for a photo during on NBC's 'Today' at Rockefeller Plaza on July 22, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Gilbert Carrasquillo/FilmMagic)
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 12: (BROADCAST - OUT) Host, Matt Lauer speaks with swimmer, Ryan Lochte of the United States on the Today show set on Copacabana Beach on August 12, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
TODAY -- Pictured: (l-r) Matt Lauer, Savannah Guthrie, Matt Iseman, Akbar Gbajabiamila appear on June 14, 2016 -- (Photo By: Peter Kramer/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
TODAY -- Pictured: (l-r) Carson Daly, Natalie Morales, Al Roker, Savannah Guthrie, Matt Lauer, Maddie Baillio, Harvey Fierstein on the 'Today' show on Tuesday, June 7 2016 from Rockefeller Plaza in New York -- (Photo by: Peter Kramer/NBC/NBC News Wire)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 16: Journalists Matt Lauer and Savannah Guthrie attend the 2016 NBCUNIVERSAL Upfront at Radio City Music Hall on May 16, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Jim Spellman/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 27: Matt Lauer is seen on April 27, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Patricia Schlein/Star Max/GC Images)
THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JIMMY FALLON -- Episode 0459 -- Pictured: Journalist Matt Lauer arrives on April 27, 2016 -- (Photo by: Andrew Lipovsky/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 29: Matt Lauer at NBC's 'Today' at Rockefeller Plaza on April 29, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Laura Cavanaugh/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 26: Caitlyn Jenner and Matt Lauer attend the 2016 Time 100 Gala, Time's Most Influential People In The World at Jazz At Lincoln Center at the Time Warner Center on April 26, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Time)
NEW YORK, UNITED STATES - 2016/04/07: Matt Lauer attends New York City Police Foundation gala at Waldorf Astoria. (Photo by Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
TODAY -- Pictured: (l-r) Natalie Morales, Savannah Guthrie, Matt Lauer and Al Roker appear on the 'Today' show on Monday, March 14, 2016 from Rockefeller Plaza in New York -- (Photo by: Peter Kramer/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 14: NBC 'Today Show' hosts Savannah Guthrie and Matt Lauer interview Chris Martin when Coldplay perform in the rain on NBC's 'Today Show' at Rockefeller Plaza on March 14, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Al Pereira/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 21: (R-L) Savannah Guthrie and Matt Lauer interview 2016 Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump during NBC's Today Trump Town Hall at Rockefeller Plaza on April 21, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by D Dipasupil/FilmMagic)
TODAY -- Pictured: (l-r) Matt Lauer and Jordan Spieth appear on the 'Today' show on Monday, March 14, 2016 from Rockefeller Plaza in New York -- (Photo by: Peter Kramer/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images)
TODAY -- Pictured: (l-r) Matt Lauer and Jennifer Lopez appear on the 'Today' show on Tuesday, March 1, 2016 -- (Photo by: Peter Kramer/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images)
WATCH WHAT HAPPENS LIVE -- Pictured (l-r): Matt Lauer and Savannah Guthrie -- (Photo by: Charles Sykes/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 18: Jack Matthew Lauer, Romy Lauer and Matt Lauer attend The Philadelphia 76ers vs New York Knicks game at Madison Square Garden on January 18, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by James Devaney/GC Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - JANUARY 10: TV personalities Willie Geist, Natalie Morales, Tamron Hall, Savannah Guthrie and Matt Lauer attend the 73rd Annual Golden Globe Awards held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 10, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by George Pimentel/WireImage)
TV personalities Al Roker (L) and Matt Lauer arrive, at the 73nd annual Golden Globe Awards, January 10, 2016, at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California. AFP PHOTO / VALERIE MACON / AFP / VALERIE MACON (Photo credit should read VALERIE MACON/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 04: Matt Lauer is seen in 'Midtown'on January 4, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Raymond Hall/GC Images)
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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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