Did the NBC Bode Miller Interview Cross the Line?

NBC Bode Miller InterviewMake no mistake — its emotion that sells everything.

In NBC’s case, it was journalist Christin Cooper who promoted Bode Miller with questions about the tragic and untimely death of his younger brother Chelone only one year prior.

Here’s the clip…

My wife and I were cozy on the couch watching this race. We both love the Olympics and have been glued to the prime time events since the start of the games.

After question #2, Sarah turns to me and says: “This is ridiculous.  Why does she keep him asking these questions?  Of course he’s upset. His brother died!”

Enter the Social Media Outrage

As it turns out, my wife wasn’t alone.

Twitter, Facebook and blogs seemed to explode in the next twelve hours with backlash towards Cooper’s relentless questioning.

NBC Outrage Tweets | Bode Miller

Twitter Reaction to Bode Miller Cries | Olympics 2014

NBC OUtrage Tweets to Bode Miller Interview

Did the NBC Bode Miller Interview Cross the Line?

But, here’s the thing.

We are all watching the 2014 Sochi Olympics on tape delay.

That means that by the time my wife and I watched Bode Miller dart down the hill to win Bronze in the Super G on NBC’s primetime broadcast, just over 9 hours had passed since the actual event and interview had taken place.

And yet, we saw it all — the race, the win, and the choked up tears from Bode as a result Copper’s continued prodding.

NBC absolutely knows that emotion sells.

As viewers, we demand drama. And, NBC understands that in order to keep ratings high, the network analysts must work to humanize these athletes. Keep in mind that we viewers are only exposed to most of the names of these skiers, skaters, sledders, snowboarders and curlers once every four years.

NBC could have edited out the interview.

Executives could have made the call to kill the interview and let Bode Miller celebrate his win, while mourning the loss of his brother in the private circles of close friends and family.

But they didn’t.

What’s Your Take?

Did the NBC Bode Miller interview cross the line?

  • a chiodo

    Without a doubt, NBC managed to remind the whole world of the lyrics of Don Henley’s famous song “Dirty Laundry.” The whole thing reeked of media finagling to squeeze the last drop of “reporting ‘real life’” out of the man’s terrible pain. Broadcast media, to put it bluntly, has no shame.

  • http://nateriggs.com/ nateriggs

    Thanks for the commment! What’s interesting is what happened last night. Notice that Bode got to say happy birthday to his little girl on the air. Interesting juxtaposition by the PR folks to try and combat the backlash…

  • merrycricket

    Do we absolutely need to squeeze every last bit of drama out of the personal lives of our Olympics athletes? I really do think the questioning was out of line and so was the decision to air the whole interview. I am tired of all the dramatics on television, the Olympics coverage should be seen as international news reporting and treated with the same amount of journalistic integrity we once held in high regard.

  • Jim Brochowski

    Cross the line, or just go where we expected they would anyway. I look at it this way, I don’t follow skiing so I didn’t know about Bode Miller’s brother, but if this were a hockey player, i.e. a game I follow very closely and there was a similar story, I would fully expect NBC to ask the question, and I would have been disappointed if they hadn’t.

    That being said, I was surprised they didn’t at least edit the end of the interview where he walks away. We didn’t need to just be staring at the man in his grief.

    Finally, I was also struck by Bode Miller himself, the next day, asking people to give Christin Cooper and NBC a break because they were just doing their job.

  • http://nateriggs.com/ nateriggs

    Thanks for stopping by, Merry : ) I agree with you. Wonder how the segment would have been received in other countries

  • Jim Joseph

    They could have handled it very differently and still gotten the drama they needed. In fact it could have been more dramatic had it been handled well. The way the camera lingered on him while he tried to compose himself was just wrong.

  • MikeSundberg

    Not only did Christin Cooper make Bode feel uncomfortable during the interview she made everyone who was watching feel uncomfortable for him!

  • http://nateriggs.com/ nateriggs

    Hi Jim : )

    Really interesting point. I was surprised by that as well and I guess that he and Cooper have known each other for some years. I do agree — NBC could have cut it a bit shorter, especially after the third round of questions. That said, makes me wonder if this wasn’t all just planned ‘theatre of the mind’…

  • http://nateriggs.com/ nateriggs

    Amen, Mike. Bode was a class act about the whole thing though…

  • http://nateriggs.com/ nateriggs

    Hey Jim, : ) — another good point. It was a very awkward moment, like the camera was just waiting for him to tear up. Also thought that when Cooper put her hand on his shoulder, it was a bit awkward. “Here, let me make you cry, but oh yeah, I’m here for you…”