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 edge 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.

Dean Starkman Dean Starkman runs The Audit, CJR's business section, and is the author of The Watchdog That Didn't Bark: The Financial Crisis and the Disappearance of Investigative Journalism (Columbia University Press, January 2014).

Follow Dean on Twitter: @deanstarkman.