Yesterday’s keruffle over Matt Lauer’s dubious line of questioning with Mary Barra, the first female CEO of automotive giant GM, on the Today Show gave Lauer haters new fuel. (In a nutshell, he asked Barra if she thought she could be both a good CEO and a good Mom. You know, just like he always asks powerful men if they’re good dads as well as being World Leaders.)
And while everyone is jumping on the “Matt Lauer is a Sexist Pig Express”, I’d like to offer a defense. Lauer may be a sexist pig, but he’s America’s Sexist Pig, after all.
Here’s why I think Matt Lauer, as far as the Mary Barra questions go, should get a pass:
1. Matt Lauer asked the question because he could. True, he asked Mary Barra the mom vs. CEO question, even though he’d never ask a man a similar question about being a Dad and a CEO, but that’s because asking a man that question would be stupid. Everyone knows men can’t handle both parenthood and a major leadership position without royally messing up one of them. I mean, they’re men. They can’t multi-task. Have you ever seen a man make dinner, take a conference call with a multinational corporation , and reorganize the junk drawer in the kitchen at the same time? I don’t think so. But women do it without a second thought. It’s what we do. We might even fix a broken lamp from the playroom at the same time, because, you know, our male counterparts promised to, but didn’t. Why?
Because they can’t multitask. And they’re busy.
2. Matt Lauer is just as stupid/sexist as the rest of them It’s not really fair to single out Matt Lauer for being sexist when Grover Norquiest calls a song about shooting your unfaithful wife his favorite because it’s pro-2nd ammendment and Pro family on Twitter. George Will blames women for being raped in the Washington Post (they published it, and then fired him for writing it), and well, this: (adapted from The Forward)
- Of 143 columnists at the nation’s three most-vaunted newspapers and the four largest syndicates of opinion columnists, only 38 are women.
- Men are three times as likely to be quoted on page 1 stories in the New York Times
- Men account for two-thirds of newsroom staffers at our nation’s daily newspapers.
Magazines are no better. Harpers, the Nation, the New Yorker and the Atlantic all published significantly more men than women last year. Harpers: 54 women and 154 men, the New Yorker: 253 women and 555 men, the Nation: 179 women and 478 men, and the Atlantic: 72 women and 150 men. (Read more in the Forward, here. )
So really, you can’t blame it all on Matt. He can’t help his environment. His sexist, male dominated, environment.
3. He’s always acting sexist and stupid. Give the guy a break: he IS sexist, that’s why he asked her a sexist question. Can you really blame a guy for being who is? He’s Matt Lauer, the guy who asked Olympian Kerri Walsh Jennings creepy questions about her and her husband’s sex life, then suggested (erroneously) that she endangered her 5 week old fetus by competing (and WINNING A GOLD MEDAL). He’s Matt Lauer, the guy who lewdly questioned Anne Hathaway about a “wardrobe malfunction.” He IS sexist — and kind of gross – so we should have compassion for his plight.
His pervy, sexist plight.
4. They Keep Paying Him. What with the Anne Curry backlash, some messy (if inconsequential) stuff with an intern, and his creepy turn with Anne Hathaway, this Mary Barra insult shouldn’t surprise anyone. It’s been a long road downhill for Matt Lauer’s popularity and that of the Today Show. Yet just last week NBC called him “the best in the business” and renewed his $25 million year contract.
Hey, if they’re going to continue paying a ratings challenged anchor with dwindling popularity $25 million dollars a year, why should he stop being a sexist pig?
So there you go, four reasons NOT to hate on Matt Lauer for asking one of the most powerful women in American business a demeaning, insulting question.
Now excuse me, I have some multi-tasking to do. While I watch GMA.