Matt Lauer’s producer says she prepared controversial question for Mary Barra

July 3

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“Today”show host Matt Lauer is back in the spotlight for the interview where he asked GM CEO Mary Barra if women can have it all.

Lauer came under fire for asking Barra: “Given the pressures of this job at General Motors, can you do both well?

Thursday morning, “Today” show producer Tammy Fine was trying to put some context behind it.

I produced Matt Lauer’s interview with GM CEO Mary Barra on June 26 and we prepared for this interview like we have for hundreds of others — we passed notes, questions, articles back and forth. There were revisions and more revisions, but the questions that didn’t change were the ones that now seem to be drawing so much attention — the ones that pertain to being a woman, a mom and a CEO.

Fine said she wrote her letter after hearing another high-profile female CEO, Pepsi’s Indra Nooyi, describe“mom guilt” at the Aspen Ideas festival.

Fine continued:

I am not a CEO. The pressures that Mary Barra — and Indra Nooyi — face are not what I face, but the job of mom or dad is the great equalizer. Our children don’t care how important we are at work; they care how important we are in their lives. So when Neera Tanden, of the Center for American Progress, says “it’s a terrible message to young women,” I disagree.

Thursday morning on the “Today” show, Matt Lauer broached the subject once again, arguing, “This isn’t a gender issue.”

U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) weighed in last week, saying that Lauer owes Mary Barra an apology.

Mr. Lauer was wrong, and he should have known better…Mr. Lauer implied in his questions that Ms. Barra was somehow unfit as a leader because she is a mother, or that she should experience different feelings as an executive because she has children. Such ridiculous questions would never be asked of a father or male executive, much less in an interview on a national broadcast network. Mr. Lauer should recognize as much and apologize to both Ms. Barra and his viewers.

Laurer originally responded to the criticism on his Facebook page, saying the question came out of a comment Barra made to Forbes magazine about missing a milestone moment in her son’s life.

It’s an issue almost any parent including myself can relate to. If a man had publicly said something similar after accepting a high-level job, I would have asked him exactly the same thing.

Pamela Kirkland is a video producer for PostTV.
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