Somebody get ABC News a fact checker. It seems some folks in the organization think the CEO of Bank of America is named “Madoff.”
That would help explain for why ABC has so doggedly pursued Brian Moynihan in ambush interviews over the past year.
The first was in September 2010 when ABC investigative reporter Brian Ross approached Moynihan in New York to ask him about Bank of America’s use of a collection agency that hired agents accused of spouting abusive and racist language at customers over the phone. Bank of America later sacked the firm.
More recently, ABC News captured Moynihan in another visual perp walk, this time in Washington, before his Oct. 5 appearance at a forum at the Newseum. ABC was reporting on Bank of America’s short-lived $5 debit card fee plan that had customers boiling over. Correspondent Matt Gutman certainly had public outrage on his mind (“Does Bank of America need that money in order to stay alive?”) when he went face-to-face with Moynihan.
One problem for ABC, though, was that the theatrics of its second stakeout may have undermined the purpose. Despite Moynihan granting an on-camera, on-the-spot interview with Gutman, very little of his response was given airtime – since so much of the segment was devoted to Gutman’s sidewalk chase, complete with a pointed voiceover of how Moynihan had been “dodging” his questions for a week.
ABC may have done viewers a disservice by not reporting more about what Moynihan said in the corridor of the Newseum, or in the public panel where Moynihan was headed to address the $5 debit fee plan and other issues. Had ABC stuck around to listen, it could have heard Moynihan defend the proposed fee as being part of its “completely clear and transparent” dialogue with retail customers to fully explain all fees and costs—a welcome attitude given that analysts expect many banks to resort to more clandestine and obtuse methods of extracting those same fees (all without being tarred and feathered, too).
ABC’s report also neglected to mention a key factor in B of A’s fee strategy: it was alone among national banks last year to completely drop debit overdraft fees following the passage of the Durbin amendment.
Completely understandable, though, since we don’t recall ABC camping outside Moynihan’s office in Charlotte over that.
Glen Fest is the executive editor at American Banker Magazine.