CNBC just issued the sudden and sad news that Mark Haines, founding anchor of the channel’s signature program Squawk Box, died last night. The channel has launched a lot of business-news stars in its time, but Haines was as close as anyone to being its defining face and voice. Like a lot of financial laymen, I’m sure, I watch business-news TV only occasionally—when there’s a big move in the markets, when a bank collapses, &c.—but when I envision CNBC, Haines’ presence is probably what first comes to mind.
Haines was plain-spoken, direct, good-humored and quick to call B.S. As with much of CNBC, viewers can argue about whether his coverage and his shows’ were too cozy with business leaders or whether they missed signs leading up to the 2008 financial crisis. But Haines was steady, unpretentious and professional, whether covering earnings reports, a market crisis or the 9/11 terror attacks.
He also probably came as close as anyone to embodying what CNBC is at its best, combining knowledgability with a distinctive voice. He asked blunt questions and, occasionally, was willing to use that voice to shoot down blather—as in the clip above, where he shuts down a political spokeswoman at the Republican National Convention for her line of spin on taxes: “I’m sorry, but I find that one-sided crap insulting.” (Those looking for equal time can watch Barney Frank cut off a tough interview with Haines here.) He may not always have made his interview subjects love him, but Mark Haines was all business. RIP.