Winter Olympics: NBC Defends Reporter’s Questioning in Bode Miller Interview

Winter Olympics: NBC Defends Reporter's Questioning

Amid mounting criticism, NBC Olympics exec producer Jim Bell defended the conduct of NBC reporter Christin Cooper during her interview Sunday with bronze-medal skiing winner Bode Miller.

Cooper’s exchange with Miller has turned controversial as she repeatedly questioned the skiing star about his reaction to winning in light of the death of his brother last year — pressing the issue even after Miller was moved to tears.

Bell said he thought the interview “played out fine.” He was pressed on the situation during a conference call with reporters today to confirm the return of Bob Costas to the Olympics anchor’s chair tonight.

Miller has since defended Cooper, a former skiing Olympian herself, on Twitter and in an interview with Matt Lauer on Monday’s edition of “Today.” But NBC’s handling of the whole situation has drawn scoldings from the New York Times, among other commentators.

During the call, Bell said he thought the interview was in line with NBCU’s practice of delving into the personal lives and backgrounds of the competing athletes.

NBCU may be under some pressure to offer more color. During the call, Bell was asked if he was concerned that no single athlete had emerged as a hero or icon during the competition.

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  1. Mr Magoo says:

    It was disgusting and repulsive. Naturally though NBC could have just shown it live at 3am or 4am in the US or whatever time it was aired originally and not repeated it, but it was just so sweet to have a clip like that that they couldn’t resist. I hope Mr. Miller gets to be a commentator for the Olympics in the future if he has in interest in it, partially as a payoff for his response.

  2. Colleen says:

    I agree with Dee. While watching the interviewer push the questions I was also yelling at the tv for her to stop. He answered her question and yet she continued with the persistance of a pit bull. Totally uncalled for. Of course NBC would back up the interviewer..whatever it takes to get their ratings.

  3. John Anderson says:

    In previous Olympics the networks did Up Close and Personal so that we learned about the person behind the athleticism. To force it into a congratulatory piece was simply……stupid. I suspect there was a producer in Ms. Cooper’s ear telling her to push the issue. Whether on her own or the continued poor leadership of NBC, it was very wrong. Costas is old news, and the morning guy replacing him is not only worthless, he needs someone to dress him. Coverage of these Olympics has been terrible, but I’m sure the network is congratulating itself regularly.

  4. Dee Elwin says:

    My boyfriend & I were screaming at the TV for the interviewer to stop the questions! She should have quit when she saw how emotional he was getting. It made us VERY uncomfortable. Shame on her for her insensitivity!

  5. Thomas E. Long says:

    Cooper’s continued pursuit of Bode Miller’s emotional reaction in the interview was intrusive and insensitive. My wife and I felt very sorry for Bode as he graciously stayed with Cooper’s questions as they pushed him into a painful emotional state. Cooper pushed on with apparently little sensitivity to what was happening. Tom L.

  6. amy amerein says:

    I can not believe anyone who has seen the interview would defend the unprofessional relentless pointless questioning of Bode Miller by this pseudo NBC reporter, Cooper. Shame on NBC.

  7. Jennifer says:

    How can NBC defend the rude and insensitive behavior of Cooper. I have yet to hear any public opinion other than condoning her behavior. Congratulations were what should have been given not daggers that dug into a part of a champions life he wished to keep out of the public eye. Despicable reporting!

  8. Anne says:

    My husband and I were both shocked at the reporters insensitivity in pushing to seek Bode’s comments while she could plainly see how emtional he was about his personal life. The reporter was wrong to drill him until he broke. It disgusting. Our sympathy to Bode and his family. Journalism and reporters like her have no emotional intelligience or social grace.

  9. Charlie Rose says:

    I thought it was unprofessional and quite out of line to follow that line of questioning.

  10. Rodger says:

    She was totally insensitive to his personal life. She was reopening a wound at a time he should have been celebrating with the rest of his country. This kind of journalism only serves to put the spotlight on HER. Too bad all it did was emphasize how irresponsible the media is with its’ power.

  11. Debbie K says:

    So, now I hear NBC contacted Bode to defend the reporter… wonder what would have been “reported” if he had not agreed…..

    If he were 10 and his friend pushed this far it would be called “bullying”

  12. Joan Layton says:

    I think the interview was totally insensitive and she should be fired!!! She did this to Bode in front of the world.

  13. John says:

    Jim Bell’s explanation, (excuse), is absolute bullshit!! Anyone who has been paying attention at all, already knew the back story. This was just typical unnecessary piling on by the network that added unnecessary additional misery to Bode’s ordeal !!

  14. Dave Meier says:

    Christin Cooper should be fired and NBC should rethink their priorities. When it comes to news and morning shows, I will switch to CBS.

  15. R. Scott Pemble says:

    Copper’s post event interview with Bode Miller was despicable. If I were an athlete competing in the Olympics and won a medal, she would be the last person I would discuss the event with on or off the air. And Bell’s argument that it is the responsibility of a reporter to give an in-depth background on the athletes demonstrates his ineptitude as well. How could he possible make that argument when only the tragic part of Miller’s life were pursued by Cooper. What about the other positive things that have happened in Miller’s life. Why were they not asked about. I repeat the whole interview was tasteless and Cooper should be assigned stories dealing with non-human topics, like may be toxic waste.

  16. Diane says:

    I understand NBC’s desire to provide the “back story” on Bode Miller….that’s not my problem with it. The problem is, more and more are media are willing to and do sacrifice any form of class for a good story (or back story). NBC’s talking head explains they “need” to tell the full story. No they don’t….that’s NBC’s justification for a bad choice at the wrong place and wrong time. Bode Miller on the other hand demonstrated genuine class; both during the interview and his effort to reach out on behalf of the NBC’s interviewer. You either have class (Miller) or don’t (NBC/Cooper).

  17. Bob K. says:

    What a very good display of being an unprofessional reporter. Really surprised at the backing given her by her superiors. Christin Cooper needs to be humbled.

  18. Tom Raynor says:

    She was totally insensitive to a still grieving human being , Athlete or not! Sounded totally unprofessional and uninformed as to how to conduct an interview. She was in over her head and the last thing NBC executives want to do is suggest they were incompetent by putting her in the position. Pathetic journalism!

  19. BSavage says:

    Here is the takeaway…I don’t know Bode Miller, but if I do meet him it will be difficult not to say I am sorry for what he had to endure…instead of an instant: MAN What a awesome accomplishment ! When was the last time you saw a tie in Super G? The conditions were tuff you were awesome… This now leaves us all with such a awful memory and Bode with a forever tag. Stand up NBC. Do the right thing for a change. Place Cooper out on the air and give a formal apology and make her atone for what she did. Make her give back what she took from him and announce her separation from commentating. She is not a journalist and never has been. She lends nothing to anyone she comments on and nothing to the skiing community. She mostly goes down a negative road on every individual, listen closely to her. Always the bad stuff first, didn’t, couldn’t, bad history, awful here… Who needs that? Better Question, Who wants that done to them in front of the whole world Mr Bell? You?

  20. Joe White says:

    Cooper’s tactics are typical of today’s “in-depth” reporting. Nothing is sacred. If it bleeds, it leads. She opened the wound and, at the sight of blood, twisted the knife until it gushed red. She lacks common sense and common courtesy. Some losses are too private, too painful to discuss. She’s an insensitive…..dipstick? Well, it rhymes with dipstick. It’s nice to know Bode is forgiving. He understands that people like her just don’t understand, perhaps never will.

  21. Merry says:

    I love watching the Olympics, because it is such a positive experience. I watched in horror as the person conducting the interview of Bode Miller pursued him like prey…persisting in her personal questions until he could not hold back and collapsed into tears. Just prior to the interview we all had heard the back story about his brother…there was no need to treat him with such disrespect in front of millions…what a horror show! The person interviewing should find another occupation; one that will instill respect and privacy of others.

  22. Judith says:

    She was TOTALLY wrong in her interview and inhumane, and was obviously only thinking of herself. She (and NBC) give “freedom of the press” a bad reputation. Bode Miller is the ONLY human being involved in that disgraceful display. Since NBC is defending her. she must have many friends in high places, as people like to say.

  23. rich says:

    Mr. Bell says we don’t know the sport or the personality, so we shouldn’t comment. Obviously, he has no clue of what makes a worthy topic for so-called reporting. Reminds me of Cuba Gooding talking to Bryan Gumbel in the movie “Jerry MacGuire”: “You can’t make me cry!” Trying to make yourself look good with irresponsible journalism is just wrong.

  24. Ken says:

    It doesn’t make any difference what the reporter says or what her bosses say…it is what the public thinks about it…and most people I have talked with think is was crass journalism. It was not classy and it was not right…but it was typical of how the media can twist things to suit themselves!!!

  25. it’s all about money what ever it takes, the end justifies the means.nbc u create a vaccum

  26. jj says:

    Only if and when her tears flow will she feel the pain she caused.

  27. Jim says:

    America has for most of its life had a vast majority of it’s populace with class regardless of an individuals wealth or job. People showed their class by respect of others through courtesy, consideration, sympathy, empathy and kindness.

    The facts are simple Ms Cooper could have stopped the interview, the camera man could have not zoomed in and the Executive in charge, Mr. Bell, could have stopped the airing of the interview.

    Ms Cooper, Mr Bell and the unnamed camera man have a lot of class unfortunately it is all LOW! Obviously all the money they earn will never change that. They will go through life without courtesy, consideration, sympathy, empathy and kindness towards others. Their loss not ours or Bodie Millers.

    Remember Mr Bell, Ms Cooper and company what goes around does come around.

    Where is the FCC when you need them?

  28. Mike R. says:

    Sure Mr. Bell will say that he and NBC were fine with the interview as Cooper’s producer was in her ear piece telling her to keep going when decency should have prevailed and she should have backed off after the first question was asked and answered. I understand background reporting but some personal stories do not need to be pushed in hopes to extract obvious emotion and pain. In this case I feel that this interview was carried too far and was in very poor taste.

  29. Aaron says:

    If Jim Bell promotes this type of practice then he must be the biggest d—– bag in television!

  30. Dan Diorio says:

    If Cooper would have stopped once she realized she had hit a very delicate spot with Bode Miller she could have stopped probing and moved on with her interview. She chose not to and kept on going. In my opinion, that is where she went terribly wrong. If Mr. bell feels that is professional and competent journalism then he is on another planet and perhaps NBC should consider replacing him with someone that has some semblance of humanism about them. I do notice a trend here with NBC, a firm I once had a fair amount of respect for, and that is the reporting on Palin some time ago and the crudeness and mean-spiritedness of that commentary, the Costas commentary about his personal feeling on guns during an NFL football game, the Costas political comment early on in the Olympics. I realize they are a left leaning organization and that is their right (this is still America) but their new and lower level of reporting is a bit out of line and it’s starting to grate on many of us. This will surface in their ratings going forward. What goes around comes around with time.

  31. Stefanie says:

    The interview was uncomfortable to watch. My husband and I could not believe this reporters lack of professionalism. One question would have been fine but for her to go on and on, it was absolutely ridiculous and we found ourselves getting angry with her questioning. I can’t believe she is even a reporter. I feel like I could have done a better job interviewing Bode. Very disappointing NBC. Class act Bode Miller, not a class act Ms. Cooper.

  32. Jamemon says:

    I watched this entire event, including the post-race interview. NBC’s position (defense) that this reporter was attempting to provide vital background information about this accomplished athlete that may have influenced his performance, or that Christin Cooper was simply attempting to reveal a comprehensive profile that the world may not have known about Bode Miller’s personal life, is an over-simplified view and a knee-jerk-short-sided attempt by NBC administrators to do damage control to what many considered was an “interview” that took full advantage of an individual who was extremely vulnerable on many emotional levels and physically drained from competition.The world knows Bode Miller very well by now and the unfortunate death of his brother had been referenced on air more than once prior to the Christin Cooper interview. Anyone watching this event was aware of Bode Miller’s personal situation during the Sochi Olympic games, not to mention that the fact that NBC also provided live audio of his wife as the event unfolded before, during and after his run that provided another layer of Bode Miller’s personal life on this occasion. Delving deeper into a very delicate personal situation in hopes of creating more drama or extending the interview to provide more “color” to what might be interpreted as “badgering” rather than reporting, is tasteless journalism, void of sensitivity and respect for this athlete’s personal loss. Bode Miller also took the high road after this interview, which speaks to both his character and his desire to avoid any further publicity on the matter. I think it is sad that NBC viewed this incident as responsible reporting rather than a very sad event that could have been prevented out of respect for the athlete and his family at a very difficult time in their lives.

  33. Jean S. Klauber says:

    Jim Bell is an arrogant ignorant ass if he supports this type of”in your face” journalism. It doesn’t matter that the interviewer knew Miller, it still was insensitive and unnecessary. Incidents such as this explain why NBC continues to struggle with ratings.

  34. Lisa Miller says:

    The interviewer did a disservice to our USA Olympian, Bode Miller. NBC had already in great length talked about what had transpired over the past 15 months for Bode in great detail. To have such a special moment for Bode be all about the emotions of losing his brother was heartless. As a sibling who has lost a sibling I wanted to go through the TV and yank the microphone out of her hand. An “attaboy” would have been so much more appropriate for both Bode and the tv audience. The NCB exec was thinking only of ratings, not Bode. Terrible job NBC!!

  35. C.E. Evans says:

    Filling us in on back story is a good practice. Badgering one of our great sports heroes until he is reduced to tears is reprehensible. I was furious, and it still angers me that this is considered “acceptable practice in journalism.” At the very least, it was disrespectful.

  36. B Moss says:

    The reporter, Ms Cooper, showed no respect nor compassion for Mr. Miller. She pushed and pushed until she broke him down. This should have been a moment for happiness and proudness. This is what is wrong with the reporters of today. “Lets make a name for ourselves, no matter who it hurts.”

  37. Patti says:

    It was tacky! I mean seriously, when you see it has struck a nerve like that STOP! Then the camera just zoomed in on him. Really. Put yourself in his place, how would you feel? I’m sure neither Ms. Cooper or her camera person would appreciate it. Why is it okay to do that to someone just because he is in the public eye? His personal life is his business not ours!

  38. Jacquie says:

    The interview was heartless and despicable. NBC is all about sensationalism. It doesn’t surprise me that your producers are fine with forcing Bode to breakdown. No focus on his Bronze medal and accomplishments, just push and badger until you bring him to tears. Lucky for you Bode has a lot more class than you ever will and is saying he is OK with it. He is just a kind and caring man. I actually feel sorry for you that you think it was an appropriate line of questioning. You just don’t get it. Sad.

  39. John K. says:

    Numbing Boring Commentary (NBC). Maybe just maybe NBC needs to look at the ratings for these Olympics. One of the worst viewed in recent history. Mr. Bell maybe you should be wondering if your job is secure. Hope not. Ms. Copper = Hack.

  40. sharon r says:

    it was a trashy bit of journalism and even if Bode was not blaming her for her line of questioning,we are,she needs to apologize,we didn’t need to see Miller brought to tears right after winning his medal,that should have been a joyous occasion for him,she changed it to a maudlin episode with Miller being the brunt of her invasive intrusion into his private life

  41. Lindie says:

    NBC Do Not defend Ms. Cooper she was completely out of line. Praise the Bronze and say his brother would be proud but all the rest was out of line and uncalled for. Media stop with all the STUPID questions and badgering of the contenders, most of the interviews are way to much…

  42. Lynn Budge says:

    I personally thought that Ms. Cooper should have backed off. It was uncomfortable to watch and while she could have touched on the circumstances of his brothers death, to keep harping on it over and over was in poor taste.

    • TMac says:

      Putting a comforting hand on Bode’s shoulder and then continuing her tasteless interrogation was wrong. She should have known when to stop!

  43. Bob says:

    If I were on public television right now, I would say this of NBC. “You suck and so do your advertisers.”

  44. Bill Baldwin says:

    If Jim Bell believes Ms, Cooper’s interview was within the boundaries of what is considered respectful then he is delusional. Bode Miller comments to defuse the issue gave Bell the cover he needed and he used every bit of it. I think Cooper showed no taste or class and NBC compounded the issue by showing the interview in its entirety. It is interesting that all the replays on NBC I have seen since the original showing have not included the entire interview.

  45. jean says:

    Bode Miller was classy when he defended Ms. Cooper. Ms. Cooper was not classy in the least. There was no real discussion of what should have been a joyful event. He won the Bronze Medal and made history. Where was that part of the interview? The interview was disgusting.

    • Bob McCoskery says:

      It was obvious that Ms. Cooper was lacking in common sense. She mentioned the bronze being in memory of the brother & Bose gave a positive answer. The conversation should then shift to winning the metal. Anyone watching the Olympics knows the happenings in the athletes lives & we appreciate NBC’s reporters who bring the individual documentaries to us. Interviews of Ms. Cooper’s style distract from the excellent documentaries on the struggles & victories in the athletes life. However, Ms. Coopers interview is typical. The questions asked seem pretty small when placed along side the athlete’s accomplishment(s). Other than these personal interviews NBC has done a entertaining job of Olympic coverage. Thank you.

  46. Koby says:

    The death of a love one is a private matter and they should have left it a PRIVATE matter….has no relevance to his ability

  47. Bob Shiller says:

    Totally tasteless interview. This was a private matter that should never have been pursued. Further, NBC had hours to decide not to show the interview after seeing the reaction and they showed extremely poor taste and judgement by allowing it to air.

  48. Sherry says:

    NBC is in a very sad state when they are OK with the interview of Bode. It was not OK. While it was happening I was wondering what is she doing? I only tuned in to NBC for the Olympics and again was reminded why I don’t like NBC. This is not an isolated event for NBC. They keep repeating the same mistakes over and over again.

  49. Cynthia says:

    Classless, disgusting, insensitive, etc……. anything for a story. Yep, that’s NBC alright.

  50. Bradley says:

    You could sense Cooper was deliberatly trying to get Bode to break down — it wasn’t enough to touch on the death of Bode’s brother then move on — it was obvious they got what they wanted and I was embarassed when the interview went so far as to accomplish Bode’s breakdown — that’s all NBC wanted, juicey news…….this has been the worst coverage of an Olympics that I can remember.

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