Pittman was a friend of ours here at The Audit. We also think his work, which is well-known within financial circles, but less so outside it, set an important example for financial journalism, as did his accountability-oriented approach to his job. Links and an interview with Pittman from February by The Audit’s Ryan Chittum are available here.
The eulogy was given at Pittman’s funeral on Saturday at St. John’s Episcopal Church, Yonkers:
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.
[Editor’s note: Typically, even Pittman’s eulogy is complicated. Gasparino denies he ever used Buhl’s ideas. Buhl, who was actually an editorial assistant at the now-defunct magazine, says that while she gave him “a few” scoops, Gasparino was a mentor to her. Rich Blake, the former editor there, says he was indeed reluctant to run an editorial assistant’s stories, but doesn’t know about the scoops.]
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.