Bode Miller is an amazing skier. He just tied for a bronze medal in the men’s Super-G and then, in the aftermath of this triumph, agreed to his interview with NBC’s Christin Cooper.
That’s where things went wrong.
We all know that the goal of the media is to find a good story. We want emotion. We want human interest. We want to feel involved. What we don’t want is to feel incredibly awkward while watching reporters make their interview subjects unrealistically uncomfortable.
But that’s exactly what happened when Cooper started to interview Miller. NBC knew exactly what angle they’d take with the piece. You see, Bode Miller’s brother, Chilly, died in April of 2013 after a long battle stemming from a head injury he received in a motorcycle accident back in 2005. They had given Bode’s wife a microphone so they could record her reactions during the actual race. And they seized the opportunity to ask him about his brother almost immediately after the race.
It isn’t so much appalling that NBC and Cooper wanted to ask Miller about his brother. The real problem was the way Cooper shifted focus away from Miller’s win, instead choosing to put the spotlight on his relationship with his deceased brother.
Cooper started by noting the “emotion” Miller had “riding” on the race. He acknowledged it had been a hard year, but instead of focusing on the fact that Miller had just received his 6th Olympic medal, she decided to push for more information about how Miller felt about Chilly not being there.
Miller struggled for words, giving short answers, displaying obvious emotions – tears.
But Cooper didn’t change her line of questioning. She pushed. And she pushed. And she pushed. Until, finally, Miller walked away from her, trying to separate herself from her.
After which the cameraman seemed to have no idea what to do, nor did Cooper. There was a very, very long, awkward minute where we were focused on a grieving Miller.
Miller – who deserves praise for his win, and privacy for his mourning. Congratulations, Bode Miller! We’re proud of your win!
Miller, by the way, defended Cooper later on, on Twitter, stating that it was a very emotional time and that she asked the questions any reporter would have asked. I think it’s huge of him to defend her, and almost unwarranted. She should have had the skill to know when to move on.