Scapegoat? Conspiracy Theories Surface About How Barra Got Here

Apr 8 2014, 4:20pm CDT | by

Scapegoat? Conspiracy Theories Surface About How Barra Got Here
Photo Credit: Forbes Auto

Things have gone so poorly for General Motors CEO Mary Barra during her first several weeks on the job that some Detroiters have reverted to conspiracy theories to explain it all. Was Barra set up to become a scapegoat in the ignition-recall debacle?

The chatter was epitomized this week by John McElroy, considered a sage among Detroit automotive observers, in a radio commentary. McElroy asked, “Was Mary Barra thrown under the bus” by her predecessor, GM CEO Dan Akerson, and perhaps by the GM board?

McElroy’s theory seemed to be that Akerson could have known something late last year about the coming cataclysmic recall because he left so abruptly as GM CEO in December, when he hand-picked Barra to succeed him. At that time, Akerson cited the extreme illness of his wife as a significant factor in the timing of his move. Previously, Akerson had indicated that he would pass the torch sometime in 2014.

But last month, Akerson suddenly resurfaced as vice chairman of the Carlyle Group, rejoining the private-equity firm.

“So [Akerson] doesn’t have time to be chairman of General Motors, but he does have time to be vice chairman of Carlyle?” McElroy mused. “Nothing has done more to feed that conspiracy [theory] than that.”

The logical conclusion of that theory is that Barra actually could become a sacrificial lamb rather than just a scapegoat, and lose her job even though she’s the high-profile first female CEO of a major automotive company.

While you’re pondering that notion, here’s a similarly conspiratorial idea, but one with an intentionally opposite outcome: that Barra was selected for the job because, as a a woman, she would become practically inoculated from taking the fall for the ignition-switch recall unless somehow she was found to be complicit.

It’s deemed possible that any new male CEO of GM may have been prompted to fall on his sword at this point, for the good of the company. In a hyper-sensitive era in which GM’s corporate culture has come under the microscope, this could easily have occurred by now, just so GM could get a fresh start with someone not beleaguered — however unfairly — by the recall scandal.

Observe how meekly Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich complied with the calls for his head and resigned last week after only 10 days on the job, once politically progressive software writers at the Silicon Valley-based browser company found out about his perfectly legal contribution six years ago to the Proposition 8 anti-gay-marriage campaign in California.

But in the case of Barra, what board of mostly male GM directors could actually bring itself to fire the company’s first female CEO — especially one whom they had just ensconced in the job with lots of talk about how enlightened the move made them?

Conspirators in this scenario would have had to be extremely clever as well as essentially in Barra’s corner — albeit in a twisted and sadistic way — presuming that she would survive whatever the recall mess threw at her simply because of her gender.

Barra has done just about everything she could to deal forcefully and openly with the ignition-recall crisis; and apparently she never had the opportunity while she was lower in the ranks at GM to precipitate a recall earlier. But the whole episode still may consume her.

 
 

Don't miss ...

 

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/30" rel="author">Forbes</a>
Forbes is among the most trusted resources for the world's business and investment leaders, providing them the uncompromising commentary, concise analysis, relevant tools and real-time reporting they need to succeed at work, profit from investing and have fun with the rewards of winning.

 

blog comments powered by Disqus

Latest stories

IPad Air Giveaway 2014 is Online
IPad Air Giveaway 2014 is Online
Our sister site I4U News is giving away a brand new iPad Air or if you can wait an iPad Air 2. This is an $499 value.
 
 
Your Parent Or Kid Moved In: Are You Covered?
A record 57 million Americans now live in multigenerational family households — double the number in 1980, according to a new Pew Research Center study. And I bet many of them have the wrong homeowner’s or renters...
 
 
Pandora Looks to Challenge Terrestrial Radio's Dominance in Cars
Pandora Media is one of the largest Internet radio providers in the U.S. with more than 75 million active users. While the company’s active user count has increased at a robust pace historically, it is likely to slow...
 
 
Are General Manager Salaries About To Skyrocket? Will There Be A Front Office Salary Cap?
Are General Manager Salaries About To Skyrocket? Will There Be A Front Office Salary Cap?
It’s January 2026. New York Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner gets out of his driverless car and triumphantly marches before the gathered press to introduce his prized new free agent. It’s a record-breaking contract—over...
 
 
 

Latest from the Network

Udinese sign Brazilian midfielder Evangelista
Rio de Janeiro, Aug 29 (IANS) Udinese have completed the signing of midfielder Lucas Evangelista from Brazil's Sao Paulo. The 19-year-old was sold to the Italian Serie A outfit for 4,000,000 euros, Xinhua cited from...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
Ed Sheeran finds Miley Cyrus 'fantastic'
Los Angeles, Aug 29 (IANS) Singer Ed Sheeran says he finds pop star Miley Cyrus "fantastic" even though she was captured on camera mouthing an expletive at him at a recent music awards ceremony. She called him "a...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Lana Del Rey to record Bond theme?
Los Angeles, Aug 29 (IANS) Singer Lana Del Rey is in talks to record the next James Bond theme. Producers of the franchise are reportedly considering the "West Coast" singer to provide vocals for the next "James Bond...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
100 immigration activists arrested in front of White House
Washington, Aug 29 (IANS/EFE) Police arrested more than 100 immigration reform activists Thursday in front of the White House as they demanded the relief for the country's 11 million undocumented foreigners, who are at...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Tracy Morgan having 'tough time' after car crash
Tracy Morgan is having a ''tough time'' recovering from his injuries following his car crash in June. The 45-year-old actor suffered a broken femur, broken nose and broken ribs when a Walmart truck crashed into the...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban filmed daughter's birth
Nicole Kidman has revealed Keith Urban filmed the birth of their first child. The 47-year-old actress admits her spouse, whom she married in 2006, captured their six-year-old daughter Sunday's first cry as she entered...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Jennifer Aniston tastes Jimmy Kimmel's wife's breast milk
Jennifer Aniston has tasted Jimmy Kimmel's wife's breast milk. The 45-year-old actress and the TV host were talking about his new baby daughter Jane on his show 'Jimmy Kimmel Live!' when the former 'Friends' star...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Joan Rivers in 'good spirits' night before respiratory arrest
Joan Rivers was in ''good spirits'' the night before she was rushed to hospital following respiratory arrest. The 81-year-old comedienne appeared ''absolutely fine'' as she attended a meal at the Amaranth Restaurant in...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Areas under militants control in Iraq needs immediate aid
United Nations, Aug 29 (IANS) The United Nations Thursday said that there is an urgent need for humanitarian assistance in Iraqi areas sieged by the Islamic State militants. "The World Food Programme (WFP), which has...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Martin Scorsese to helm Ramones documentary
Los Angeles, Aug 29 (IANS) Oscar-winning filmmaker Martin Scorsese has been tapped to direct a documentary about the US punk band Ramones. To celebrate the upcoming 40th anniversary of the band's debut album, the...
Read more on Celebrity Balla