Bode Miller Defends NBC Reporter Who Made Him Cry

A minor media firestorm erupted yesterday after an NBC Olympic Alpine Skiing reporter interviewed American skier Bode Miller just after he won a bronze medal in the men’s super-G ski race.

Interviewer Christin Cooper pressed Miller multiple times with variations of questions about the passing of his younger brother and what it meant to him in the competition.

Miller starting tearing and eventually broke down physically and emotionally.
Chelone Miller, a snowboarder, died within the past year.
The interview, which aired on tape delay, was bashed by people inside and outside of the television business.

Richard Sandomir of The New York Times called it “overkill,” Kami Mattioli of the Sporting News said Cooper “repeatedly badgered” Miller and the AP’s David Bauder called it “a shameful spectacle.”

Twitchy has Twitter reactions of outrage and anger, aimed at the reporter, here.

Overkill – perhaps. But “repeatedly badgered”? I wouldn’t call it that. Here’s the interview, watch for yourself:

In Cooper’s defense, Bode Miller brought up the subject of his brother first,  putting the topic on the table. Cooper then asked, “I know you wanted to be here with “Chilly” – really experiencing these games – how much does it mean to you to come up with a great performance for him – and was it for him?”

When Miller struggled to answer that question, Cooper probably should have backed off. But this was live TV and she followed up with another question – one that perhaps a lot of viewers had in mind after watching his performance. 

“And you looking up at the sky at the start, we see you there – and it just looks like you’re talking to somebody – what’s going on there?”

(When I saw it, I was wondering if he was praying.)

That’s when Miller broke down. He was clearly a ball of raw emotions, and the subject of his brother’s death was still an open wound. 

Also receiving criticism is NBC, for its decision to keep the cameras on Miller, who had collapsed onto the railing, sobbing for more than a minute. They had several hours in which to edit the footage, yet aired the entire, sad spectacle anyway.

Miller, class act that he is, took to Twitter to defend Cooper: 

Christin Cooper, a former World Cup alpine ski racer and two time Olympic medalist, has been providing exceptional commentary on the alpine ski competitions for NBC.