Observer vendetta against CEO Lewis trumps concern for BofA, Charlotte

Since our first documentation of the Queen City’s local dead-tree Drive-by journalism hit job against Bank of America’s CEO, Ken Lewis, The Charlotte Observer has only ramped up the assault.

They have attacked Lewis as “out of touch” for utilizing the Bank’s private jet to attend an Andrew Cuomo, New York Democrat witch hunt against BofA and Merrill Lynch; and ridiculed his 2008 pay cut. And we thought the newspaper recently editorialized about the unseemliness of corporate CEO bonuses amidst a financial crisis.

The confidence score so far? A shareholder group that owns one-tenth of one percent of the bank’s outstanding shares called for Lewis to be fired. Hence: Ken Lewis 99.09 Charlotte Observer 00.01.

The local daily seems to be the one that is out of touch as it pretends that Bank of America is the only bank in America facing troubled times and that all its troubles are due to the actions of Ken Lewis with respect to the purchases of Countrywide and Merrill and their toxic assets.

The Observer persistently buries crucial facts, such as:

1) Lewis was forced to go thru with the ML deal by Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke;
2) Lewis was forced to take the first installment of TARP funds by Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson;
3) Bank of America made a profit last year;
4) Bank of America’s income in 2009 exceeds its outlays and is expected to do so all year and into the foreseeable future;
5) The drop in the price of the bank’s stock is consistent with price drops of similarly situated banks;
6) BofA has increased lending from a year ago my a significant amount in no small part due to re-fi customers of Countrywide and Merrill Lynch;
7) Lewis has bought millions of shares of stock in the bank since last September; and
8) Lewis has agreed to reduce his salary to $500,000.

Bank of America is not insolvent. It pays its bills. Yes, its “value” as measured by its stock price is low, but that does not effect its ability to operate. And if the President and the local paper would quit attacking it everyday, its stock price would rise.

Ken Lewis has done a good job first in building a bank strong enough to weather the credit crunch, and in guiding the bank through the past few months.

Do they really want to bring the towers down?

Presidential and Drive-by attacks coupled with Congressional show trials designed to shift attention from the liberal democrats in the House and Senate responsible for the financial mess caused by their Fannie and Freddie friends may accomplish that goal, but they won’t hurt Lewis without also hurting Bank of America employees, the city of Charlotte and America’s banking system itself.

Mike DeVine’s Charlotte Observer, Examiner.com and Minority Report columns

“One man with courage makes a majority.” – Andrew Jackson

Originally published by Mike DeVine, Legal Editor for The Minority Report