Christin Cooper Of NBC Brought Olympian Bode Miller To Tears Over His Dead Brother, And The Cameras Kept Rolling
On Sunday, NBC anchor and ex-Olympian Christin Cooper came under fire for pushing skier Bode Miller, fresh from medalling at the men's super G, to talk on-camera about Miller's deceased brother. Miller had just won the bronze medal in the ski race, and had secured a place as the oldest Alpine medalist in Olympic history, when NBC's Cooper pulled him aside for an interview.
As the cameras rolled, Miller told Cooper about his brother, Chelone, who passed away in April last year. Cooper asked Miller several questions about Chelone, and Miller started crying. NBC kept filming. Cooper continued to ask questions. Miller fell to his knees, still crying, and NBC continued filming.
Here's a transcript of the exchange, courtesy of USA Today:
Miller: This was a little different. With my brother passing away, I really wanted to come back here and race the way he sends it. So this was a little different.
Cooper: Bode, you’re showing so much emotion down here. What’s going through your mind?
Miller: (Long pause) A lot, obviously. A long struggle coming in here. And, uh, just a tough year.
Cooper: I know you wanted to be here with Chilly [Miller's brother] experiencing these games, how much does it mean to you to come up with a great performance for him? And was it for him?
Miller: I mean, I don’t know [if] it’s really for him. But I wanted to come here and uh — I don’t know, I guess make my self [sic] proud. (Pauses, then wipes away tears.)
Cooper: When you’re looking up in the sky at the start, we see you there and it just looks like you’re talking to somebody. What’s going on there?
Miller begins tearing up around 1:30. At 1:42, he's crying so much he can't continue the interview, though NBC continues filming him huddled over the fence and eventually falling onto his knees. The video was not live, which means NBC decided to leave the crying scene in after the tape delay.
And as soon as the video aired, the backlash began.
NPR 's Linda Holmes, who runs the media outlet's entertainment blog, Monkey See, had a few choice words:
And Richard Sandomir of the New York Times dove into the conversation, criticizing Cooper's relentless questioning.
If you’ve made a medal winner cry, it is time to simply say “thank you” and move on. It was on tape, so NBC could have cut it off and gone to Matt Lauer in the studio. Instead, Cooper forged on, wondering whom he seemed to be talking to when he looked up in the sky before he started his run down the mountain.
It was not a bad question, but by this point, it was overkill.
But on Monday, Miller announced Twitter that he didn't blame Cooper for the emotional interview.
NBC Olympics executive producer Jim Bell defended Cooper, saying that it would've been "irresponsible" for her to not have asked Miller about his brother's death. Soon after, NBC promptly released its own statement about the interview.
Our intent was to convey the emotion that Bode Miller was feeling after winning his bronze medal. We understand how some viewers thought the line of questioning went too far, but it was our judgment that his answers were a necessary part of the story. We’re gratified that Bode has been publicly supportive of Christin Cooper and the overall interview.
In an interview with Matt Lauer on Today, Miller continued to defend the NBC reporter.
I’ve known Cristin a long time. She’s a sweetheart of a person. I know she didn’t mean to push. I don’t think she really anticipated what my reaction was going to be, and I think by the time she sort of realized, it was too late. I don’t blame her at all.
We could all learn something from Miller's graciousness, regardless of how Cooper handled things.