ABC Hints Rich CEO 'Deeply Tanned' from Sunbathing, But May Be Italian Complexion?

During a story suggesting that Angelo Mozilo, the former CEO of the mortgage company Countrywide, is unworthy of his millions of dollars and perhaps enjoys too much time lying in the sun, ABC's Dan Harris, possibly not picking up on the former CEO's Italian ethnicity which could be the source of his skin's dark complexion, remarked that Mozilo's "deeply tanned face" could become the "face of the mortgage mess." The story ran on Friday's World News with Charles Gibson, substitute hosted by George Stephanopoulos, with Harris beginning his report: "This may well become the deeply tanned face of the mortgage mess. The face belongs to Angelo Mozilo, the once-celebrated CEO of Countrywide, now facing allegations of predatory lending and rapacious greed." Harris also ended the report seeming to lament that Mozilo is not facing foreclosure on any of his homes: "If the sale [of Countrywide] goes through, Mozilo will walk away with about $40 million. And with not one of his homes in foreclosure." (Transcript follows)

Even before reporting that Mozilo is being investigated for possibly illegally selling some of his stock holdings, ABC was already portraying negatively his large bonuses and other wealth. Stephanopoulos introduced the story:

Today executives from three giant mortgage loan companies were called on the carpet by members of Congress. They've been criticized for taking multi-million dollar bonuses while their companies lost millions on subprime loans. No one is getting more scrutiny than Angelo Mozilo, who heads America's largest mortgage lender, Countrywide.

After beginning his report possibly mistaking Mozilo's natural complexion for a "deep" sun tan, and relaying accusations of "predatory lending" and "rapacious greed," Harris seemed to take exception with the number of homes owned by the former CEO. Harris:

Even before thousands of his customers went into foreclosure, Mozilo's lavish compensation -- this is just one of his homes -- attracted criticism. Several years ago, when investor Rich Ferlauto raised questions about Mozilo's large pay package, Mozilo personally confronted him.

After airing complaints by Democratic Senator Charles Schumer that while, under Mozilo's leadership, Countrywide seemed to be reaching out to help minorities buy homes, that in reality, according to Schumer, "if you picked up the rock, you'd see all kinds of worms crawling underneath," and after covering allegations that Mozilo may have illegally sold some of his stock, Harris concluded his report seeming to wish that Mozilo were also facing a home foreclosure like some of Countrywide's customers:

Countrywide and Mozilo are now facing protests and lawsuits. And the company is now being sold. If the sale goes through, Mozilo will walk away with about $40 million. And with not one of his homes in foreclosure.

Below is a complete transcript of the story from the Friday March 7 World News with Charles Gibson on ABC:

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: One of the biggest drags on the economy has been the housing crisis. Today executives from three giant mortgage loan companies were called on the carpet by members of Congress. They've been criticized for taking multi-million dollar bonuses while their companies lost millions on subprime loans. No one is getting more scrutiny than Angelo Mozilo, who heads America's largest mortgage lender, Countrywide. Here's Dan Harris.

DAN HARRIS: This may well become the deeply tanned face of the mortgage mess. The face belongs to Angelo Mozilo, the once-celebrated CEO of Countrywide, now facing allegations of predatory lending and rapacious greed.

VOICE OF UNIDENTIFIED CONGRESSMAN: If you don't bear personal responsibility, I don't know who does.

ANGELO MOZILO, Former Countrywide CEO: I do take full responsibility, for anything that happens at Countrywide.

HARRIS: Even before thousands of his customers went into foreclosure, Mozilo's lavish compensation -- this is just one of his homes -- attracted criticism. Several years ago, when investor Rich Ferlauto raised questions about Mozilo's large pay package, Mozilo personally confronted him.

RICH FERLAUTO, AFSME: We're nose-to-nose, and, you know, he's sort of pointing his finger at me saying, "Ferlauto, I want to see what you're made of."

HARRIS: Critics say under Mozilo, Countrywide engaged in questionable lending practices, such as giving people loans that were higher than the value of their homes, and luring borrowers with low teaser rates. I have a brochure that they printed out here, and you can see all the faces are Hispanic and black. He became somewhat of a hero for promoting low-income and minority home ownership.

Senator CHARLES SCHUMER (D-NY): He was a great promoter. But if you picked up the rock, you'd see all kinds of worms crawling underneath.

HARRIS: Mozilo has vigorously denied reckless lending.

MOZILO: It doesn't make sense for us to make a loan that's going to fail because we lose. They lose. The borrower loses. The community loses. And we lose.

HARRIS: Another problem for Mozilo, the government is reportedly investigating his sale of hundreds of millions of dollars of Countrywide stock, much of it before the company's stock price tanked.

MOZILO: The reason I'm selling is, is that it is the majority of my net worth. I have a big family -- nine grandchildren, five children. I have a lot of education to pay for.

SCHUMER: Please.

HARRIS: You're not buying it?

SCHUMER: I do not buy it. $400 million isn't to pay tuition for no matter how many grandchildren he has.

HARRIS: Countrywide and Mozilo are now facing protests and lawsuits. And the company is now being sold. If the sale goes through, Mozilo will walk away with about $40 million. And with not one of his homes in foreclosure. Dan Harris, ABC News, New York.

Wages & Prices Regulation Stock Market Business Coverage Housing Real Estate Banking/Finance Recession ABC World News Tonight Angelo Mozilo


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