CBS Plays Class-Envy Card Over Countrywide Event That Didn't Happen

     Imagine being sent to a luxurious resort in Colorado to investigate a “posh” corporate event, but it gets canceled right before air time. What do you do? CBS covered it anyway.


     “The execs who foreclosed on 90,000 homes and laid off 12,000 people – off to a posh ski retreat, $725 a night,” CBS “Early Show” anchor Harry Smith said on the February 25 broadcast, teasing a forthcoming story.


     But the event had already been cancelled. According to The New York Times, Countrywide issued a news release late Sunday evening announcing the cancellation.


     Still, that didn’t stop “The Early Show” from giving viewers a glimpse at how lavish the Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch ski resort in Avon, Colo., was. The CBS segment, which aired at 7:05 a.m. EST, called the event a “snow job.”


     “[W]hile the economy in general and many homeowners remain in serious trouble, Countrywide has picked a place where those troubles will go away, for a price,” CBS correspondent Jeff Glor said. “It’s a winter retreat for the rich – the Bachelor Gulch Ritz-Carlton resort in Avon, Colorado. Rooms start at $725 a night.”


     Glor’s reporting resembled something more appropriately aired on The Travel Channel, as he laid it on thick about the planned site of the non-event.


     “The mountains are snow-capped, the skiing top-notch,” Glor continued. “And then there's the food. At the famed Spago restaurant, goat cheese layer cakes, tuna tartare, and a sliced Kobe steak dish for $91. For the budget conscious, only 36 bucks for chicken. This is where the troubled home lender Countrywide scheduled a lavish wine-and-dine getaway for mortgage bankers from around the country, for three days, all expenses paid.”


      “The Early Show” reported later during its February 25 broadcast, at 8:05 a.m., the “junket” had been canceled.


      “This morning Countrywide Financial, the nation's largest mortgage company, under pressure has been forced into canceling a lavish gathering for clients,” CBS’s Russ Mitchell said.


     “The junket was scheduled for this exclusive $750-a-night ski resort as Countrywide’s CEO is getting grilled by Congress about his company's problems,” he said. “Ninety thousand of Countrywide’s mortgages are in foreclosure. In a statement the company says ‘in light of recent events,’ it had decided to cancel all gatherings with business partners and clients for the rest of the year.”


      Countrywide agreed to sell itself to Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) for $4.1 billion last month. Angelo Mozilo, the founder and CEO of Countrywide, is scheduled to testify before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform later this week. Mozilo gave up $37.5 million in pay earlier this year, but still was criticized by the media.