60 Minutes

View arbitration ruling against Paul Bishop (March 18, 2010), discrediting the 60 Minutes show and confirming warnings made to 60 Minutes before the show aired.

A 60 Minutes story that aired in February 2009 about World Savings has been discredited. 60 Minutes built its story around the allegations of Paul Bishop, a disgruntled former employee who was suing World Savings.

In March 2010, the independent arbitrator found against Mr. Bishop and in favor of World Savings, after a full examination of Mr. Bishop’s employment records and sworn depositions and testimony from a variety of witnesses. The arbitrator determined that there was no basis for Mr. Bishop’s claim that he was a whistleblower and awarded Mr. Bishop nothing.  The arbitrator stated that Mr. Bishop was “continuously rude to his co-workers and bullying and condescending to his support staff” and that Mr. Bishop had been terminated for such conduct after “he had already received a One Time Warning for similar conduct.”  The arbitrator also noted: “[w]hen asked at the Hearing if [Bishop] could point to or name one loan or employee to be checked for the [alleged] illegalities Bishop could come up with no specifics.”

Before the show aired, Golden West had warned 60 Minutes that Mr. Bishop was unreliable and that his accusations were false. Golden West’s warnings were totally consistent with, and validated by, the independent arbitrator’s decision against Mr. Bishop. Here are some of the factual materials provided to 60 Minutes before the show aired:

View letter to Graham Messick (February 10, 2009).
View letter to Graham Messick (February 12, 2009).

Given that the entire 60 Minutes show was built around Mr. Bishop’s claims, it is clear that the show never would have aired if the arbitration ruling had been rendered prior to the broadcast.

After the show aired, Herb Sandler, Golden West’s former Chairman and CEO, sent a letter to CBS and 60 Minutes Executive Producer Jeffrey Fager outlining numerous problems with the show and requesting to meet. Mr. Fager never responded to the request, but CBS management met with Mr. Sandler. CBS sent this letter to the Sandlers confirming they now better understand Golden West’s position that it never changed from its historical focus on quality lending to a focus on volume.

CBS subsequently posted this letter from Herb Sandler demonstrating how the show was inaccurate and irresponsible on the 60 Minutes website, adjacent to the online version of the original show. In particular, the letter describes how 60 Minutes pursued a predetermined narrative based on Mr. Bishop’s false and inflammatory allegations despite having received substantial factual information to the contrary and without having fully vetted Mr. Bishop or his claims.

Mr. Sandler wrote to Mr. Fager in May 2010 asking 60 Minutes to set the record straight in light of the arbitration result against Mr. Bishop. Here is the letter to Mr. Fager. Mr. Fager acknowledged receipt of the letter and promised to consider the request. In June 2010, 60 Minutes posted an update to the transcript of its show, noting that Mr. Bishop lost the arbitration and attaching a copy of the arbitration decision.

Also, read the following comment by top-ranked bank analyst Thomas K. Brown about the 60 Minutes show being both factually incorrect and unfair: Fudging and Distortions at 60 Minutes.