Mark would have been embarrassed had I told him to his face, but he was an inspiration.
I was in Asia watching Mark Haines interview a commodity guest on SquawkBox. I was a young journalist starting out in the TV business, and the interview went something like this:
Mark: "Where's oil headed"?
Commodity guest: "yadda yadda yadda.......$24..."
Commodity guest: "OPEC this and that, this and that..."
Mark: "And gold?"
Commodity guest: " $300 an ounce etc etc..."
And on it went.
I was flabbergasted. How was it that someone in New York, in the most competitive TV market in the world, the holy grail of financial TV careers, could be asking such simple questions?
I brought this up with my producer the next day, and her response was, "Yes, isn't he brilliant?"
I retorted, "But he asked one-word questions!" Her reply was, "Well, you got the info you wanted, he didn't waste time getting the info you wanted, and if the guest had been a dumb-a**, Mark would have mentioned that too!"
A light-bulb went on inside my head. His questions were simple, but they were direct, unobstructed by hyperbole, details or factoids showing how much he knew on the subject.
Too many people in TV think it's about them. Mark's direct, take-no-prisoners, I'm-not-here-to-show-off attitude to journalism and getting the facts was truly inspirational.
The day I met him, I was nervous. I don't function well with take-no-prisoners kinda people. But Mark was gracious and welcoming. He tried hard to do my accent. Maybe it was to make me feel at home, maybe it was to make fun of me, but most of all, I think he liked to just have a bit of fun.
I am truly sad he's gone. But the memory of him will live on with all of us.