News: Matt Lauer Asks Mary Barra Stupid Questions
Matt Lauer, host of The Today Show and longtime antagonist of reasonable hair styles, interviewed embattled GM CEO Mary Barra on Thursday morning in the wake of a stop-sale order being issued for all 2013-2014 Chevy Cruze. Lauer may as well have been practicing his fast pitch technique with a busted shoulder for all the softballs he was lofting Barra’s way, but it was one particular exchange that caught my attention:
Lauer starts by saying that he wants to tread lightly when broaching the role Barra’s gender had in being named CEO at arguably the most tumultuous moment in company history, so he’s sure to lead with some obsequiousness in letting Barra know that he knows she’s qualified. Matt Lauer is not like all men, you know. Matt Lauer is different. Different in the sense that he’s a grossly overpaid hackjob of an interviewer who clearly grew up wanting to be Walter Cronkite, got about a quarter of the way there, and just said “screw it, I’ll be useless instead,” but different nonetheless.
He proceeds: “But there are some people who are also speculating that you got this job 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 [provide] a softer face and softer image for this company as it goes through this horrible episode. Does it make sense or does it make you bristle?”
Full disclosure: I’m among those certain that Barra was given the nod over someone like Mark Reuss in order to play the role of human shield for both her predecessor and successor. It doesn’t take a lot of extrapolation to arrive at this conclusion either. Barra was chosen to be tied to the recalls because she’s a more affable, less skuzzy face at best and, at worst, because it appeals to the lowest common denominator’s belief that of course a woman wouldn’t know all the inner workings of a car corporation. After all, she’s a woman. Not only that, but she’s a woman and a mom. That’s like a double whammy that makes it all the more believable every time Mary Barra says she never had any idea of what was going on behind the curtain. How could she focus on all of those things at once, after all? What is she, intelligent and capable of multitasking and basic comprehension skills or something?
Barra answers with a matter-of-fact “It’s not true” before genuflecting into some digression about dealing with the issue in a timely fashion. Given what we know about GM’s leaders sitting on and suppressing this information for more than a decade, there’s no reason to buy Barra’s “we dealt with this issue the minute we knew” line any more. And yet we keep hearing it. Why? Because Barra may genuinely have the best interests of the company at heart. She wants to see it persevere. It’s almost like she’s raising it…nurturing it…almost like she’s GM’s mother.
Oh, but that’s ridiculous. What does being a mother have anything to do with…
Lauer: “You’re a mom I mentioned…”
Are you serious? Is he really doing this?
“You said in an interview not long ago that your kids said they’re going to hold you accountable for one job, and that is being a mom…”
You’ve gotta be kidding me. Did Matt Lauer learn nothing from actual journalist (read: comedian more in touch with reality) John Oliver and his segment from Last Week Tonight? No. Of course he didn’t. Because Matt Lauer is a $25,000,000 polyp on your television screen. Just get on with it then. Go ahead and embarrass yourself. We’re not going to be able to stop you.
“…given the pressures of this job at General Motors, can you do both well?”
Well. That was somehow even more preposterous than I had imagined. Just when you think old Matt Lauer and his terrible head haven’t got any more surprises, they pull out a whopper like this one.
The question of whether Mary Barra can fulfill her obligations to her kids and her job simultaneously is the kind of nonsense a high school newspaper writer might consider a good idea on the fly. That it somehow found its way into a rehearsed (clearly) interview carried out by a professional journalist (and I’m using this as loosely as is possible) boggles the mind.
Rather than expounding on all of the things that are inherently wrong/nonsensical/irrelevant about this question, I’m going to offer a list of potential alternatives:
- “Given the pressures of this job at General Motors and your job as a human being, can you do both well?”
- “Given the pressures of this job at General Motors and your job as a Christian, can you do both well?”
- “Given the pressures of this job at General Motors and your job as a home owner, can you do both well?”
- “Given the pressures of this job at General Motors and your job as a casual DOTA 2 player, can you do both well?”
- “Given the pressures of this job at General Motors and your job as an avid watcher of Hannibal, can you do both well?”
- “Given the pressures of this job at General Motors and your job as a small, sentient being in a vast and uncaring universe, can you do both well?”
- “Given the pressures of this job at General Motors and the multitude of jobs carried out by your internal organs simultaneously, can you do both well?”
- “Given the pressures of this job at General Motors and your constant need to draw air, can you do both well?”
- “Given the pressures of this job at General Motors and your aversion to breathing water, can you do both well?”
Hard hitting stuff, Matt Lauer.
Update: Matt Lauer has issued this expert response on his Facebook page:
So the only reason you asked Mary Barra a question about being a mother is because she addressed being a mother because halfwit journalists demand that every woman in power ever makes a tangential connection between her professional legitimacy and her maternal agency. And that’s what we call circular logic, ladies and gentlemen.