This past weekend, I was watching the Olympics on NBC when Bode Miller was interviewed post-race by Christin Cooper. As she kept asking him by about his recently deceased brother I felt myself growing increasingly uncomfortable .At one point, I burst out ” Stop it already. Can’t you see the poor man has had enough ?” The camera was focused tightly on Bode’s face and it should have been obvious to the reporter that Bode was tearing up and on the verge of losing it all. Still, she kept on with the line of questioning until Bode broke down and was unable to continue. Cooper then walked away but the camera followed Bode as he walked a few paces away and knelt down , his head turned away , his face in his hands. Still, the camera remained focused on him for half a minute or more until finally , Bode’s wife Morgan, saw what was happening and rushed over to comfort him.
It was a low point in NBC’s Olympic coverage and has been rightly condemned both by the public and the media. AP called the interviewer, Christin Cooper, ” tone-deaf and cruel ” while Richard Sandomir in the New York Times wrote that ” Cooper and NBC lacked the sensitivity to know when to stop.”
Bode himself took the high road when he tweeted ” … please be gentle with Christin Cooper. It was crazy emotional and not all her fault..” ( emphasis mine). NB then had the gall to defend the interview and itself , saying in part “.. We are grateful that Bode has been publicly supportive of Christin Cooper and the overall interview. ” Really ? I’d don’t think that Bode’s statement was a ringing endorsement of her and NBC.
At the time of the interview, Bode Miller had just endured an afternoon of high anxiety. The first skier down the slopes, he had had to wait on the sidelines as a succession of rivals tried to better his time. Eventually, two of them did and another tied it meaning that Bode secured a bronze in probably the last Olympic race of his life. Then he was ambushed by the insensitive Ms. Cooper who, instead of focusing on the race and his future plans, kept peppering him with questions about his deceased brother. One or two questions , I can see but she kept pecking away until Bode’s composure crumbled. Then NBC compounded the error by not leaving him alone in his time of grief. Even as I was watching the interview I could not help feeling that this was exactly what they wanted. In acting as she did , Cooper was like the reporter who accosts a family which has just watched their house burn down , sticks a microphone in their faces and demands to know what their feelings are . Such behavior is then justified on the grounds that the public has a right to know.
I’m sorry but that just won’t wash. This should all have been about Bode’s achievement in his final Olympic race and his plans for the future. Instead , it became an intrusion into his private feelings under the unsparing eye of the camera. NBC and Christin Cooper fully deserve the stick they have been getting . They should be ashamed of themselves.