As a follow-up to his controversial interview with GM CEO Mary Barra, Today Show correspondent Matt Lauer taped an interview with Mark Fields, soon-to-be CEO of Ford Motor Company, which is expected to air next week. Autoblopnik has obtained an exclusive transcript.
LAUER: Good morning, Mr. Fields, and thank you for joining us.
FIELDS: Thank you for having me, Matt.
LAUER: And congratulations on being named Ford Motor Company’s next CEO.
FIELDS: Thank you. It’s a real honor, and honor and a privilege.
LAUER: There’s been a lot of speculation as to why you were named Ford’s new CEO. Why do you think you got the job?
FIELDS: Well, you know, Matt, I’ve been with this company almost my entire working life. I’ve been asked to take on some major responsibilities, running brands like Mazda, Jaguar and Land Rover and Volvo when we owned them. Under Alan Mulally, I ran our North American operations, and it was great to be able to make some major changes under Alan’s leadership. I think the Board of Directors felt I was the person best qualified to build on the great work Al has done. And that’s really an honor. It’s daunting [laughs], but it’s an honor.
LAUER: I want to tread lightly here, but you’ve heard this. You’ve heard it on web sites and you’ve heard it on blogs. You got this job because you are hugely qualified, 25 years in this company, a variety of different jobs. But there are some people who are speculating that you got this job because of your awesome hair, because people within Ford knew that as a guy with awesome hair, you could present a better image for the company. Does that make sense or does it make you bristle?
FIELDS: Well, that’s absolutely not true, Matt. I believe I was selected for this job because of my qualifications, not my appearance.
LAUER: Okay, let’s move on. Ford has been under a lot of pressure, in the media and from consumers, because you’ve had to restate the fuel economy ratings for many of your cars. That’s been–
LAUER: –a real challenge for Ford.
FIELDS: Yes, it has.
LAUER: There are people who say that the best way to deal with this, to deal with the public relations fallout, is to have a CEO with awesome hair.
FIELDS: Well, Matt, I really don’t think that has anything to do with it. Mistakes were made, and we regret that, and we have done our best to find out how those mistakes were made so we can make corrections and improve the process. You can’t run an American car company without the trust and the confidence of the American people. It’s important that we have that, and we need to come clean and say “This is where we messed up” and get that trust back.
LAUER: Do you think you are in a better position to regain that trust because of your awesome hair?
FIELDS: I really don’t think that has anything to do with it, Matt. Obviously, that situation was foremost in the minds of Al and of our Board of Directors when they selected me as CEO. I think that I have proven that I could deal effectively with those situations, because I–
LAUER: Because you have awesome hair?
FIELDS: No, Matt, this has nothing to do with — this is about my qualifications, my track record. Go back to when we first got Jaguar and Land Rover, and we had to make changes, we had to turn around those brands and their brand images, and with Land Rover especially, we were able to build a strong image for that brand. And I take pride in that, the work that my team and I did to make that happen.
LAUER: But you had awesome hair when you were running those brands.
FIELDS: Matt, can we drop the thing about my hair? It’s really not relevant. And I really don’t–
FIELDS: I don’t like that you keep–
LAUER: Okay, let’s move on to a different subject. Let’s talk about the automotive bailouts. Ford was the only automaker to survive the economic crisis without relying on government loans.
FIELDS: Yes, and we’re very proud of that. We’re grateful that the government offered a lifeline, and we’re glad that Chrysler and General Motors took advantage of that, because having either of those companies fail would have been bad for our industry, but we’re proud that Ford was able to survive on its own.
LAUER: Do you think that had anything to do with your awesome hair?
FIELDS: Okay, I think I’ve had enough of this.
LAUER: Because the CEOs of GM and Chrysler did not have awesome hair. They had ordinary hair.
FIELDS: I’m done with this. This is ridiculous, you and Jalopnik and your fascination with my hair. I’m just — This is ridiculous. I’m out of here.
LAUER: Mark Fields, thank you for joining us this morning. Great to see you and your awesome hair.
FIELDS: Fuck you, Matt.
LAUER: Mark Fields, who this week takes the reins as CEO of Ford Motor Company. Back to you, Savannah.
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