ABC’s Daniel Steinberger reports:
The woman appointed to succeed Dominique Strauss-Kahn at the International Monetary Fund gave her first press conference in Washington today, but she refused to comment on the legal troubles of her predecessor, although she did fault the media for a rush to judgment.
Christine Lagarde is in her second day as managing director of the IMF and focused more on how she will lead the global funding agency than on Strauss-Kahn, who resigned in May following allegations of sexual assault in New York.
Questions about the motivation of his accuser – a hotel maid – have stymied the case against Strauss-Kahn and Lagarde said there were lessons to be drawn from the way the media handled the story. She said that the “presumption of innocence is highly valued the world over”, and that sometimes the media’s huge appetites for a story lead to poor judgment in handling the coverage. She also said that she thought she would be “more inclusive, more team-minded” than Strauss-Kahn in how she handled the job.
Back on current IMF business, Lagarde said that while the world’s economy is improving, the global economy remains fragile and uneven.
“When we look at our growth forecasts for 2011, 2012, we are clearly on the rebound and things are improving and are getting better when compared with the situation as it was in 2009 at the height of the crisis.”
“There are many issues that need to be addressed, those issues cannot wait for yet another summer holiday,” Lagarde said. One of the first tasks Lagarde promised to tackle is the debt crisis in Greece and she confirmed that the IMF will meet on Friday to discuss the next round of aid to the Mediterranean country.
Lagarde said she would try to bring what she called the “three C’s” – connected, credibility, and comprehensiveness – to the IMF and the way they approached markets and the 187 members of the fund. She also pledged more diversity in the fund, saying “the value of diversity is top on my list of priorities. It’s not just gender diversity, it’s about culture, it’s about academic background.”
Lagarde, who was born in France, but spent part of her childhood in Bethesda, Md., nearby the IMF’s Washington, D.C. headquarters. She said there is a lesson to be learned for all little girls in her story of rising all the way to the top of the IMF, “everything is possible”.