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GM CEO Barra fights back against racist label after second ad runs

Jamie L. LaReau, Detroit Free Press on

Published in Automotive News

DETROIT — General Motors is fighting back after a second full-page advertisement ran Wednesday in newspapers calling CEO Mary Barra a racist.

GM is denouncing the ad as being full of "factual inaccuracies and character assault."

The same ad first ran in Sunday's Detroit Free Press.

In it, seven leaders of Black-owned media companies, including media mogul Byron Allen whose company owns the Weather Channel and other broadcast outfits, called Barra racist for refusing to meet with them and for not allocating more of GM's advertising dollars with them.

GM reached out to the group Sunday afternoon and scheduled a meeting for Monday between GM's Chief Marketing Officer Deborah Wahl, Allen and several of the men who signed the ad, both sides said.

That meeting was "constructive" the parties said. A meeting with Barra and the men was then scheduled for Thursday.

 

But publication of the ad Wednesday in the Wall Street Journal set off sparks inside GM's upper ranks.

Allen said the group also ran the ad Wednesday in the Washington Post and the Michigan Chronicle.

"We are disappointed that Mr. Allen and his fellow signatories resorted to additional paid media advertising to advance a narrative of factual inaccuracies and character assault against our CEO, Mary Barra," said GM spokesman Pat Morrissey in a statement to the Free Press.

"It is particularly perplexing given that the paid advertising appears after the GM team has had repeated meetings with Mr. Allen and his team, and after we had scheduled a meeting between the signatories and Ms. Barra," Morrissey said. "As we have maintained all along, the meeting with Ms. Barra was always on the table once Mr. Allen invested in a brief discussion with our CMO to correct factual inaccuracies and to scope the request from Mr. Allen and the signatories, which varied wildly from day to day."

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