NBC's reporter Christin Cooper received backlash when she pressed Olympian Bode Miller with questions about his dead brother in an interview. Nevertheless, the U.S. alpine skier defended Cooper and explained why he broke down in tears before walking away.
Miller was fresh from winning Bronze at the men's super-G event at the Sochi Olympics Sunday, February 16. Cooper first asked him the difference between this Olympics to previous ones, leading Miller to bring up the subject of his brother Chelone aka Chilly who died of apparent seizure in April 2013.
"Bode, you're showing so much emotion down here. What's going through your mind?" Cooper asked. Miller replied, "A lot, obviously. A long struggle coming in here. And, uh, just a tough year." Cooper continued, "I know you wanted to be here with Chilly experiencing these games. How much does it meant to you to come up with a great performance for him? And was it for him?"
Miller said while wiping away tears, "I mean, I don't know if it's really for him. But I wanted to come here and, uh, I don't know, I guess, make myself proud." The reporter could have stopped there but she asked, "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?"
At that point, it became too much for Miller that he broke down and dropped his head. Cooper said sorry but Miller walked away before crouching down and cried. It was his wife Megan who pulled him up and gave him a hug.
Cooper may be criticized for pushing it too far, but she got Miller's defense. "I appreciate everyone sticking up for me. Please be gentle w/ Christin Cooper, it was crazy emotional and not all her fault," he tweeted on Sunday. "My emotions were very raw, she asked the questions that every interviewer would have. Pushing is part of it, she wasn't trying to cause pain."
Miller also told Matt Lauer on Monday, "I have known Christin a long time, and she's a sweetheart of a person. I know she didn't meant to push. I don't think she really anticipated what my reaction was going to be, and I think by the time she realized it, it was too late. I don't blame her at all."
He continued, "I feel terrible that she's taking the heat for that, because it really was just a heat-of-the-moment kind of circumstance. I don't think there was any harm intended. It was just a lot of emotion for me...You sometimes don't realize how much you can contain that stuff until the dam breaks, and then it's just a real outpouring."