CNBC Anchorman Mark Haines Dies

CNBC anchorman Mark Haines died unexpectedly Tuesday evening. He was 65 years old. Haines hosted morning business news programs on the cable channel for 22 years.

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MICHELE NORRIS, host:

Mark Haines, one of CNBC's most visible and popular anchors, died suddenly last night at age 65. He helped turn the network into one of the country's leading business news outlets.

As NPR's Jim Zarroli reports, Haines was a seasoned observer of the business world, known for sometimes clashing with his guests.

JIM ZARROLI: Mark Haines was already a broadcast veteran when he came to CNBC. He stayed for 22 years, most recently as co-anchor of "Squawk on the Street," which was broadcast from the New York Stock Exchange. Haines had a genuine presence on the air and he was comfortable in his own skin, says CNBC anchor David Faber, who worked with him for years.

Mr. DAVID FABER (Anchor, CNBC): What you saw is what you got, and I think that's why people responded to him so much.

ZARROLI: Haines had an unflappable authority and credibility that served viewers well in difficult times, like September 11th.

Mr. MARK HAINES (Anchor, "Squawk on the Street," CNBC): It's not accidental that the first tower just happened to collapse and then the second tower just happened to collapse in exactly the same way. How they accomplished this, we don't know.

ZARROLI: Haines sometimes projected a kind of genial befuddled air, and he wasn't afraid to ask questions that might sound dumb. But behind the persona, he was an astute observer of Wall Street. He was an early skeptic about the dot-com boom. And in early 2009, after stocks had plunged, he was among the first journalists to say they had reached a bottom.

Haines was a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania Law School, and Faber says he could be a relentless questioner of guests.

Mr. FABER: It really was more about the answers themselves or the lack thereof that seemed to drive him nuts and that then really sent him to that level where he became ferocious, and an incredibly strong questioner.

ZARROLI: A few years ago, Haines clashed on air with Barney Frank, then the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, and Frank grew so angry he cut the interview short.

Representative BARNEY FRANK (Democrat, Massachusetts): What you have collectively suggested, let's do nothing at all. Let's acknowledge that there...

Mr. HAINES: No, I have not suggested that.

Rep. FRANK: I'm sorry. Please stop interrupting me.

Mr. HAINES: I am not going to let you...

Rep. FRANK: All right, excuse me. If you want to lose me...

Mr. HAINES: I am not going to let you...

Rep. FRANK: If you want to lose me...

Mr. HAINES: I am not going to let you...

Rep. FRANK: Excuse me...

Mr. HAINES: ...misrepresent what I'm...

ZARROLI: But Haines was no ideologue. He took on conservatives over tax policy. He squared off against economist Martin Feldstein when he criticized President Obama's plan to overhaul health care.

Those exchanges could make some people on Wall Street angry. But when Haines' death was announced this morning, traders at the stock exchange observed a spontaneous moment of silence.

Jim Zarroli, NPR News, New York.

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