Some investigative reporters still live up to their job descriptions.
On the July 20 edition of “CBS Evening News,” reporter Sharyl Attkisson exposed how government-sponsored entity (GSE) Fannie Mae and mortgage lender Countrywide “were quietly scratching each other’s backs” while their toxic loans fueled America’s mortgage crisis.
Attkisson revealed new documents showing that Countrywide gave “very important person” loans to dozens of Fannie Mae executives while American taxpayers forked over $84 billion to bail out the GSE.
Among the VIP loan recipients were Fannie Mae CEO Jim Johnson, who received $10 million, former Vice Chair Jamie Gorelick and former CEO Franklin Raines, whose total amounts received remain unknown. Attkisson reported the loans, but did not mention Raines, Gorelick, and Johnson all have ties to Democrats, from Bill Clinton to John Kerry to President Obama.
Attkisson showed 42 Fannie Mae officials took 153 VIP loans from Countrywide. Additionally, Attkisson revealed an e-mail from Countrywide to Fannie Mae’s then Chief Operating Officer Dan Mudd attempting to cover their tracks:
“Make sure the branch, and RVP, understand the sensitivity of this deal,” the first part of the e-mail read. “We already are taking a loss, it would be horrible to add a service complaint on top and lose any benefit we generate.”
Attkisson concluded her report with an interview with U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and stated that Issa would like a congressional probe of Mudd and other Fannie Mae CEOs to see if they violated any ethical codes. However, CBS News anchor Katie Couric didn’t allow Attkisson to elaborate and swiftly moved on the next story.
Attkisson broke the seemingly unwritten media code of not covering the Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac debacles. Ironically, her story was aired on the evening before President Obama was scheduled to sign the massive financial reform bill that fails to include any GSE reform.