NBC (along with every reality TV show producer) knows that Americans love a good sob story and networks executives love a cheap ploy for ratings. But when NBC’s Christin Cooper interviewed Olympian skier Bode Miller, she may have gone too far with the whole gut-wrenching Olympian backstory narrative.
After tying for a bronze medal in the men’s super-G at the Olympics in Sochi, effectively becoming the oldest medalist in Alpine skiing, 36-year-old Bode Miller geared up for an interview with NBC.
Determined to tow an emotional story line, NBC’s Christin Cooper asked Bode Miller about his feelings about his late brother, Chelone, who died last year at age 29.
“Bode, you’re showing so much emotion down here, what’s going through your mind?” Cooper asked.
Fair enough, Miller had already admitted that there was “a lot of emotion riding” on the race. But then Cooper pressed on, repeatedly pressing Miller for more detailed answers.
“I know you wanted to be here with Chelly experiencing these games; how much does it mean to you to come up with a great performance for him? And was it for him?” Cooper asked.
At this point tears started to trickle down Miller’s face, but Cooper badgered on.
“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?”
Too much. Bode Miller broke down, falling to his knees in tears. NBC chose to air 75 seconds of Miller crying instead of cutting to Matt Lauer. The interview ended when Miller eventually got up and walked away as NBC’s camera awkwardly lingered on the scene.
Viewers were appalled at NBC’s invasiveness, prompting a series of #NBCFail tweets. But Miller didn’t seem too phased about the interview tweeting, “Please be gentle with christin cooper, it was crazy emotional and not at all her fault #heatofthemoment.”
NBC Sports also issued a statement Monday morning saying:
“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.”
Read: An NBC interview isn’t over until someone is sobbing.