'Today' Host Applauds 'Good Talk' at White House Summit; 'Way Past Time' for Paid Maternity Leave

Acting as a cheerleader for the White House "Summit on Working Families" on Tuesday's NBC Today, 9 a.m. ET hour co-host Natalie Morales hailed: "A lot of good talk at the White House yesterday. You know, the whole conversation about managing work-life balance." She teed up a clip of President Obama speaking at the event: "He spoke about the importance...of having that balance in his own life and how much Michelle has had to pinch hit for him. And vice versa." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]

In part, Obama observed: "You look at something like workplace flexibility. This is so important to our family....that flexibility made all the difference to our family. But a lot of working moms and dads can't do that." As the soundbite ended, Morales and weatherman Al Roker agreed that it was "so true."

Moments later, Morales recited administration talking points: "A lot of important issues that came up during this summit. Of course the U.S. is the only developed country to not offer paid maternity leave, which is pretty remarkable and unbelievable. Other countries on that list, by the way, I think Papua New Guinea and Oman....I think it's time. It's way past time."

Of course many businesses and occupations in the U.S. do provide paid maternity leave, it's simply not a mandated government entitlement.

On Monday's NBC Nightly News, newly-named White House correspondent Chris Jansing similarly gushed over the summit: "What's being talked about in Washington tonight are kitchen table issues that impact nearly every American."


Here is the full transcript of the June 24 report:

9:02 AM ET

NATALIE MORALES: A lot of good talk at the White House yesterday. You know, the whole conversation about managing work-life balance. There was a summit there. The President hosting the Summit on Working Families, called work-life balance. And he spoke about the importance about his own family, the importance of having that balance in his own life and how much Michelle has had to pinch hit for him. And vice versa. Take a listen.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Obama On Work-Life Balance; First Lady Brought Sasha to Job Interview]  

BARACK OBAMA: You look at something like workplace flexibility. This is so important to our family. This was so important to our family when I was away, because if Malia or Sasha got sick or the babysitter did not show up, it was Michelle who got the call. And fortunately she had an employer who understood if she needed to leave work in the middle of the day or change her schedule suddenly.

In fact, actually, when she applied for the job, she brought Sasha, who was then about six months, in her car seat into the interview. Just to kind of explain, "This is what you will be dealing with if you hire me." And so they signed up for that and that flexibility made all the difference to our family. But a lot of working moms and dads can't do that.

AL ROKER: That's so true.

MORALES: It's so true. Yeah, I mean it's-

ROKER: We've been very lucky in this job. You know, we get called away very quickly.

MORALES: And we both have very supportive spouses who can kind of do what they need to do to help fill in when we're not around. But it was interesting, I love the part where he said, you know, she shows up for a job interview with then Sasha or Malia back seat in the car seat. I was thinking, "Jeez, that's a tough thing." You show up for the interview and say...

ROKER: With a baby.

MORALES: Yeah. I don't know how the employer necessarily is going to take that.

ROKER: "You're hiring both of us."

MORALES: Exactly.

ROKER: Although when you think about the President, he's got the greatest gig going in a sense in that he works above the store. So, you know, his commute's a lot shorter.
MORALES: He can check in.


ROKER: Yeah, he can check in. "Hold on a second, hold this security briefing, I gotta go check on the kids."

MORALES: Yeah. A lot of important issues that came up during this summit. Of course the U.S. is the only developed country to not offer paid maternity leave, which is pretty remarkable and unbelievable. Other countries on that list, by the way, I think Papua New Guinea and Oman.

ROKER: Wow.

MORALES: So, you know, I think it's time. It's way past time.

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC