Here's a secret I'll share if you swear not to tell anyone: some people in television are phony. That stays between us. Mark Haines was not one of those people.
Mark appeared several times a week on Morning Joe to give us our daily update from the New York Stock Exchange, and we always knew what we were getting: brutal, and often hilarious, honesty. If you asked, "What's going on down on Wall Street today, Mark?", you might get a response like, "I've got nothin' today. Let's talk about something else." If you asked him to interpret some new economic data, he might say, "I don't know what it means. Nobody does, and if they tell you they do, they're lying." That doesn't mean Mark didn't know his stuff -- boy, did he ever -- it just means he wasn't going to hype a story or spin numbers for the sake of television. Imagine that.
Even when you gave him a quick throwaway line at the end of the update like, "What are you up to this weekend, Mark?", as I did once, you might be in for a lengthy preview of his Saturday of gardening, deck sealing, or driveway resurfacing. Small talk did not exist in his world. If you ask a question, you're getting an answer.
If you needed to know what kind of impact Mark Haines had on the people around him, all you had to do was to turn on CNBC on Wednesday morning as the news of his death broke. His longtime friends and colleagues gathered on sets and on satellites across the country to tell Mark Haines stories in a kind of instant, nationally televised wake. The New York Stock Exchange even held a moment of silence for him.
What a great guy. I just hope that when St. Peter asked Mark why he should let him into Heaven, he was ready for an honest answer.