Bob Ivry's Eulogy For Mark Pittman

Bob Ivry’s eulogy for Mark Pittman 12/5/09

Can you believe it?

It’s hard to believe.

Impossible to believe.  Of all the people in the world. Mark Pittman.

For those of you who don't know me, I'm Bob Ivry. I worked closely with Mark at Bloomberg News the past three years. And I'm here to proclaim to all of you that Mark Pittman was a happy man.

A very happy man.

He told me more than once that we had the best jobs in the world. We had badges, we had guns. We were on the trail of the biggest crooks in history.

Mark was happy. He loved his wife and three daughters. He loved his parents. He loved cruising the Hudson on his boat. He loved going to a ballgame, going to a concert. He loved having friends over and grilling some ribs. He loved life.

And now this.   OK, so here's a story about a guy who loved telling stories. This is years ago. Teri Buhl is this young reporter with a magazine called Trader Monthly and she's getting all these scoops. But the editors don't trust her because she's a rookie. So she's giving her scoops to a guy named Charlie Gasparino. You might know Charlie from CNBC. He was writing a column for Trader Monthly back then, so he's Teri Buhl's colleague. And he's writing up all of Teri's scoops and having a great time.

Teri Buhl meets a reporter for Bloomberg News named Mark Pittman. Teri tells Mark what she's been doing with all her scoops. And Pittman says to her, don't give your scoops to Charlie. Give them to me.

Teri asks why should I do that? Because, Pittman says. I'm taller than Charlie. I can see over the bullshit.

He could see over the bullshit. Pittman was listed -- that's what they say in sports, they say he was `listed' -- at six-four. But you know he was much taller than that. And so he could lift his chin and he could just barely see over all the bullshit.

Most of us are down here somewhere. We need straws to breathe through all the bullshit. We stop breathing through the straws, we get overwhelmed with bullshit. The bullshit just stops us.

Not Mark. Mark Pittman was taller than the bullshit. He could see over the bullshit.

He was bigger than the bullshit, too. I once said to him, if I didn't go to the gym I'd weigh 300 pounds. He said to me, so what's wrong with weighing 300 pounds?

This is the place where Mark Pittman lived. Bullshit down here. And up there, in a place that's out of reach to a lot of the rest of us, a better world.

A world where folks get a fair shake.

A world where rules are rules and if you break them you pay.

A world where we get what we deserve. Nothing more. Nothing less.  He could see that world. He could describe it. He was a lot taller than six-four. He was listed at six-four but he was taller. Tall enough to live in that other place.

And every day he worked his butt off to bring that better world closer to the rest of us.

He worked his butt off. But it was the best gig in the world. The gig he was born for.

He loved it. He was happy.

Mark Pittman is the biggest reporter on the biggest story in the world, and what happens? In a flash, he’s gone.

Here's the thing about Mark Pittman. The stories he wrote nailed people. Nailed them. This is why. Mark Pittman was all about the data. He did his homework.

Other reporters, bless them, write what this guy says and what this other guy says in response and then they publish cold oatmeal.

But Mark Pittman wrote about what they did. What they said they did wasn’t always what they really did. And what they really did was in the data.

How good was he? He would have won a Pulitzer Prize for 2007 if only the folks at the prize committee could figure out that Mark Pittman was a hero.

The story they didn't understand, and the story that should have won him the award he always wanted, was on the credit rating companies. S&P, Moody's and Fitch.

The ratings companies were supposed to warn people if an investment was no good. They were supposed to tell people when they were about to lose money.

They didn’t. But Mark Pittman did.

When Bloomberg published the story, the folks at S&P went over the story and went over the story and went over the story. They couldn't find one minor glitch in Mark Pittman's genius.

And then they did what Mark Pittman wanted them to do without him having to tell them to do it: They warned people they might lose money.

And this is what Chris Atkins, a friend of Mark's, wrote when he heard of Mark's death.

Chris is also a vice president at S&P. This is what Chris wrote:

``You might like to know that Mark was greatly respected at S&P.  He always went the extra mile to get the story from every angle, top to bottom, side to side. I never called him once to complain about his stories about S&P because I never could find a factual error.’’

OK. Let's stop there. Do you know how hard that is? Do you know how special that is? Not to make a mistake? We're talking about a pile of spreadsheets as thick as a your arm, prospectuses of collateralized debt obligations that run eight hundred pages. Cash flows and default rates and prepayment expectations. Pittman absolutely wallowed in that stuff. And the thing is, he didn't get anything wrong. Amazing.

That's from Chris Atkins. Now remember this, people. Chris Atkins works at a company that Mark Pittman NAILED. And they couldn’t help but love him.

I want to read one more e-mail to you.

It needs a little set-up. As most of you know, Mark Pittman had the courage to take on the Federal Reserve. Because of him, Bloomberg sued the Fed. 

Who sues the Fed? One reporter on the planet. One, as our friend Emma Moody said. Just one.

So when he died, a lot of members of the tinfoil hat brigade figured there must have been foul play.

The tinfoil hat brigade? They're the ones who use tinfoil hats to keep the CIA from reading their minds. Mark Pittman was the patron saint of the tinfoil hat brigade.

They loved him for slaying the Fed dragon.

When they heard about Mark’s death they thought he'd been murdered. And they said so on web sites like zero hedge. Which, incidentally, was Pittman's favorite blog.

One more thing you need to know. Zero hedge is run by a guy who calls himself Tyler Durden. Tyler Durden was the Brad Pitt character in the movie Fight Club. The anarchist who used human fat to blow up the big banks. Tyler Durden.

OK. So here's a post to the zero hedge web site. In response to the tinfoil hats who thought Pittman had been whacked.

``This is Maggie Pittman and Mark is my father. He would probably disapprove of me feeding the masses this information, but he taught me to always speak and seek the truth. He was not murdered. I do appreciate and understand your thinking and would probably think the same in other circumstances. However, he was not murdered.

``He suffered from heart disease for many years and while this is extremely sudden and a loss for everyone, it is no conspiracy. The only truth is that his body suffered while his mind kept on evolving always ahead of the pack. I wish everyone could know his hearty and always available laugh, his wisdom and his sense of righteousness and his total commitment to me and my family.

``I feel truly truly blessed to have this amazing man as my father and will do everything I can to make sure others follow suit and keep fighting on. I loved him more than anything in this entire world and I will miss him for the rest of my life. Thank you for your kind words, i know my dad would get a HUGE kick out of the Tyler Durden reference. He was Tyler Durden before there was a Tyler Durden. Thank you again and keep on.’’

That’s what Maggie told the world about her father. What father wouldn't want his daughter to say that about him?

Lay me down in a wooded field*
Plant a bush above my head
Lay me  Lay me down
Don't go writing on my grave
I've said it all before the end
Lay me
Lay me down

When I'm dead
Please don't philosophize
Or feel regret
Just remember me when I said
I had one hell of a life
One hell of a life
I had one hell of a life

Throw my ashes to the wind
Watch them blow into the sea
Throw me
Throw me in
You can cry up there on the cliff
Scream to heaven work your grief
Throw me
Throw me in

When I'm dead
Please don't philosophize
Or feel regret
Just remember me when I said
I had one hell of a life
One hell of a life
I had one hell of a life

Fear and guilt accumulate
At times you've a right to deal with it
Maybe now
You can live your life under endless weight
Or build it high on the present tense
Maybe now

When we’re dead
They won't philosophize
Or feel regret
They'll remember us when we said
We had one hell of a life
One hell of a life
We had one hell of a life

Mark Pittman was my brother and I will never forget him. Nor will I ever be able to repay him for all he did for me, for all he meant to me, for the fire he passed on to me. And as all of you are my witnesses I will carry on in his spirit and do my part to make this world that ideal world that Mark dreamed of. And I'm asking you all to help me. We’re going to have fun doing it. Because, damn it, there is no better reason: Mark Pittman would have wanted us to.

The rest, my friends, is bullshit.

*``One Hell of a Life’’ by Katell Keineg: