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Larry Summers says media needs to be 'intense, but disinterested' in Trump

Andy Serwer
Editor in Chief

Larry Summers has some advice for the media. That is, be strong, but not shrill.

The former Treasury Secretary also said the media has been perhaps a bit overly focused on President Trump because he’s such “a mesmerizing figure,” and should make sure it is covering the statements of “officials who are around the President.”

In an interview in his offices at Harvard University, I asked Professor Summers, former President of Harvard, Treasury Secretary during the Clinton Administration and a Director of the National Economic Council under President Obama, how the media should be doing its job.

“Andy, I would think there were huge challenges being in your position, in the media,” Summers said. “I think the media needs to stay balanced, in the sense that, God knows the American press can never be a mouthpiece for the American government. At the same time, I think the press needs to call out inaccurate statements. It needs to report the facts—accurately. It needs to be clear on what the perspective is when things seem very much outside of traditional boundaries.”

President Trump points to a member of the media in the East Room of the White House, Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Summers said it is a mistake for the press to think of itself as any sort of opposition party, as officials in the Trump administration have tried to characterize it.

“I’ve seen some in the press who think it’s their job to be the opposition. And I think that’s a very dangerous role, for the press,” said Summers. “I think the press needs to be intense, but disinterested in its observation of what’s going on. I also think that the press, because he’s such a mesmerizing figure, has been drawn to the president himself, and has perhaps devoted a little less coverage to some of those around the president than might be appropriate, and has been a little reluctant to call out some of the more problematic statements of some of the officials who are around the president.”

More from our interview with Larry Summers:

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Full Interview: