In a softball interview with Senator Kirsten Gillibrand on Monday's Today, co-host Ann Curry praised the New York Democrat for "galvanizing women to become economially empowered" and "trying to inspire a lot of people."
In a segment free from any challenging questions, Curry helped promote a women's economic summit that Gillibrand organized in New York City: "Why do you believe that women have the power to be a catalyst for our nation's economic recovery?...And in what way specifically can women today step up?...So how much power do women really have right now to be the juice in the recovery for this country's economy?"
Gillibrand argued that female leadership in business and politics could solve the nation's economic problems: "When they're at the table the outcomes are better.... we need their consensus-building, we need their ability to bring people together, especially today in Washington, when, as we all know, Washington is broken. And the more women that are at the table, I think the better results we'll get."
Curry followed up with yet another softball: "In the article in Good Housekeeping magazine about your friendship with not only Debbie Wasserman Schultz from Florida, but also Gabby Giffords from Arizona, how much does this connection between the three of you bolster you given the fact that you're in such a minority?"
Gillibrand reiterated: "Women often work very well together. We can often can reach across party lines. We can build consensus, reach compromise and get things done....I think if we have more women at the table making the decisions, we will have better outcomes and better decisions will be made."
Earlier on the show, correspondent Savannah Guthrie conducted an equally softball interview with the predecessor to Gillibrand's Senate seat, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Here is a full transcript of the October 17 interview:
ANN CURRY: Back now with New York Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. She's hosting a summit here in New York City today aimed at galvanizing women to become economially empowered and she's using an iconic image from World War II to do it. Senator Gillibrand, good morning to you.
KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND: Good morning.
CURRY: Why do you believe that women have the power to be a catalyst for our nation's economic recovery?
GILLIBRAND: Well, women are such an economic engine in this country and largely untapped. Women are right now graduating more than half of the college degrees, more than half of the advanced degrees. And women-owned small businesses are some of the fastest growing small businesses in the whole country. And when small businesses create two-thirds of all new jobs, we need women at the forefront.
CURRY: You're talking about using the Rosie the Riveter iconic image from World War II because that was sort of used to tell women to step up. And in what way specifically can women today step up?
GILLIBRAND: Well, the reason why we're using Rosie the Riveter, if you remember, World War II, a lot of the men were fighting and a lot of the war industries desperately needed employees. So they created this advertising campaign, a call to action for women to come into the workforce. Within 14 months, 2 million women, by the end of World War II, 6 million women.
So this is a call to action. It's about talking to America's women to say, 'You are part of the solution. We need you as part of the decision-making fabric of this country.' Because all studies show when women are part of the decision-making, the outcomes are better, particularly on corporate boards. Right now we only have 16% women on the Fortune 500 corporate boards. We need more.
CURRY: Alright, you also have other numbers that you point to. For example, I think this is something that most women might be surprised to still learn, that women still earn just 78% of what men earn. And that gap creates an average loss of $434,000 over a woman's career. And that doesn't even include lower pensions and also Social Security payments. And also, as you pointed out, that women are just 3% of our Fortune 500 CEOs and that women start businesses with eight times less capital than men. So how much power do women really have right now to be the juice in the recovery for this country's economy?
GILLIBRAND: They've got the great ideas, they've got the great business sense and they've got good decision-making abilities. So this conference is about giving them the tools they need to really reach their full potential. So, for example, did you know that only 7% of women negotiate their first salaries but 57% of men do.
GILLIBRAND: They need to know their value, they need to know that they deserve more. They certainly deserve a dollar on a dollar. And one study shows that if women did earn a dollar on a dollar the GDP of America could go up by 9%. Up to 9%.
CURRY: So really what you're saying is it's good for everyone if women have this opportunity and their families, especially, and their children. And that's a big issue.
GILLIBRAND: Most families are two-wage-earning families. So if you are literally losing $400,000 in your lifetime imagine what that money could go towards, college educations, opportunities for your kids. So we want all America's women to understand that they are needed. We need them in the work force, we need them making decisions and we also need them on the political side.
I'm one of only 17 women in the U.S. Senate today. We only have 17% in Congress. We only have six governors. So we need women to understand that not only are their voices necessary because they have good ideas, both on the business side and on the political side. But when they're at the table the outcomes are better. The decisions that are made have a broader viewpoint. Women often have a very different perspective on how to solve problems. And so we need their consensus-building, we need their ability to bring people together, especially today in Washington, when, as we all know, Washington is broken. And the more women that are at the table, I think the better results we'll get.
CURRY: You mentioned political power in Congress. And you know, in the article in Good Housekeeping magazine about your friendship with not only Debbie Wasserman Schultz from Florida, but also Gabby Giffords from Arizona, how much does this connection between the three of you bolster you given the fact that you're in such a minority?
GILLIBRAND: Well, it's wonderful to have such close friends in Washington. You know, the joke is always if you want a friend in Washington, buy a dog. Well, it's not necessarily true because there's some great girlfriends there. And women often work very well together. We can often can reach across party lines. We can build consensus, reach compromise and get things done. And we know we need to get things done in Washington right now. We have a very tough economy. We have, you know, many, many families all across New York, all across our country, suffering. And we need people who are willing to work together and actually solve these problems. And I think if we have more women at the table making the decisions, we will have better outcomes and better decisions will be made.
CURRY: By the way, how is Gabby doing?
GILLIBRAND: She's doing great. I just saw her about a week ago and she's strong. She's still inspiring all of us. And she's going to make it.
CURRY: Alright. Well, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, trying to inspire a lot of people herself this morning. Thank you.
GILLIBRAND: Thank you so much.