War of words

Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss are clashing with former Harvard president Larry Summers, left. Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss are clashing with former Harvard president Larry Summers, left. (Joshua Roberts/Bloomberg)
By Mark Shanahan & Meredith Goldstein
Globe Staff / July 23, 2011

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The back-and-forth between former Harvard president Larry Summers and the Winklevoss twins is getting silly. In an interview earlier this week, Summers bad-mouthed the brothers, Cameron and Tyler, who have long claimed that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg stole their idea for the social-networking site when they were all at Harvard. “One of the things you learn as a college president is that if an undergraduate is wearing a tie and jacket on Thursday afternoon at 3 o’clock, there are two possibilities,’’ said Summers, whose meeting with the Winklevoss boys was dramatized in “The Social Network.’’ “One is that they’re looking for a job and have an interview; the other is that they are an [expletive]. This was the latter case.’’ Now, the Winklevosses have responded with an open letter to Summers’s successor, Harvard president Drew Faust. They characterize Summers as “tactfully challenged’’ and say he didn’t shake their hands when they met in his office. “Doing so would have required him to take his feet off his desk and stand up from his chair,’’ they write. “It is deeply disturbing that a professor of this university openly admits to making character judgments of students based on their appearance.’’ So what do they want from Faust? It’s not clear. “As the current president, we respectfully ask for you to address this unprecedented betrayal of the unique relationship between teacher and student,’’ they write. Contacted yesterday, a Harvard spokesman told us, “The president receives lots of correspondence from alumni, and I’d imagine will respond directly in due course.’’