The Internet was abuzz about Team USA skier Bode Miller on Sunday night. But it wasn't because he won the bronze medal in the super-G at the Sochi Games— in the process, becoming the oldest Alpine medalist in Olympic history, at 36 years and 127 days.
No, Miller was trending on Twitter because of his emotional interview after the competition. Specifically, the denizens of Twitter thought that NBC's Christin Cooper went too far in her interview with Miller, whose younger brother died last year.
Chelone Miller, a snowboarder who died in April 2013, has been a big part of Bode Miller's story these Games. But Cooper drilled Miller with three questions that seemed like they were trying to make him break down on camera. Whether that was her motivation or not, it worked.
Watch the video, if you missed it. Here's a transcript of the entire interview:
Cooper: Bode, such an extraordinary accomplishment, at your age, after a turbulent year, coming back from knee surgery, to get this medal today, put it in perspective. How much does this mean to you?
Miller: I mean it's incredible. I always feel like I'm capable of winning medals but as we've seen this Olympics it's not that easy. To be on the podium, this was a really big day for me. Emotionally, I had a lot riding on it. Even though I really didn't ski my best, I'm just super super happy.
Cooper: For a guy who says that medals don't really matter, that they aren't the thing, you've amassed quite a collection. What does this one mean to you in terms of all the others.
Miller: This was a little different. You know with my brother passing away, I really wanted to come back here and race the way he sensed it. This one is different.
Cooper: Bode, you're showing so much emotion down here, what's going through your mind?
Miller: Um, I mean, a lot. Obviously just a long struggle coming in here. It's just a tough year.
Cooper: I know you wanted to be here with Chelly, really experiencing these games. How much does this mean to you to come up with this great performance for him? And was it for him?
Miller: I don't know if it's really for him but I wanted to come here and, I dunno, make myself proud, but ... (trails off)
Cooper: When you're looking up in the sky at the start, we see you there and it looks like you're talking to somebody. What's going on there?
Miller: (breaks down and cries, Cooper puts an arm on him)
The reaction? Well, it was swift and agitated.
Some announcers just don't know when to stop asking questions-why can't they leave Bodie Miller alone and let him deal with his emotions.— MIKE ERUZIONE (@MERUZIONE) February 17, 2014
NBC has NO shame. How many times do they need to make Bode Miller cry for his dead brother to promote their ratings.— Gypsy Queen Cafe (@thegypsytruck) February 17, 2014
Wow, the thing that interviewer just did to Bode Miller was SUPER disgusting. #Olympics2014— Linda Holmes (@nprmonkeysee) February 17, 2014
That reporter just did everything short of kick Bode Miller in the junk to try and get him to cry on TV. #Olympics2014— Matthew Schott (@matthew_schott) February 17, 2014
Clearly that reporter had the over on number of questions to make #Bode cry.— Bumpus Jones (@JFleur87) February 17, 2014
Bode Miller looks like he's about to cry. It's actually very moving. He's 36. It means something different to him.— Chuck Russell (@chuckrussell1) February 17, 2014
I never really believed bode when he always says it isn't about the medals but after watching him cry I believe him now #respect— Zach Mooney (@zachmooney11) February 17, 2014
Reporters have to ask tough questions. It's part of being a journalist. One of the hardest parts of the job — and one of the toughest nuances to learn — is knowing when enough is enough in an emotional situation. Cooper, it's worth noting, was a skier before getting a TV gig with NBC, not a lifelong journalist.
Maybe when she looks back at the tape on this, she'll realize that one question about Miller's brother was enough — perhaps two would have been OK. But the third one, the one that broke Miller down into a ball of emotion, came off as, at best, insensitive and, at worst, cheap.
UPDATE: After the interview aired for the West Coast audience, Miller chimed in on Twitter, asking people to be gentle with Cooper.
I appreciate everyone sticking up for me. Please be gentle w christin cooper, it was crazy emotional and not all her fault. #heatofthemoment— Bode Miller (@MillerBode) February 17, 2014
My emotions were very raw, she asked the questions that every interviewer would have, pushing is part of it, she wasnt trying to cause pain.— Bode Miller (@MillerBode) February 17, 2014
Update 2: Miller went on Today Show Monday morning and talked about the interview with Matt Lauer (watch here).
"I've known Christin a long time, and she's a sweetheart of a person," Miller told Lauer. "I know she didn't mean to push. I don't think she really anticipated what my reaction was gonna be, and I think by the time she sort of realized it I think it was too late. I don't blame her at all. I feel terrible that she's taking the heat for that, because really it was just a heat-of-the-moment kind of circumstance, and I don't think there was any harm intended."
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