NBC Sports is standing behind reporter Christin Cooper following her controversial interview with Olympic skier Bode Miller at the Sochi Winter Games.
Following viewer backlash, the peacock network has released a statement of support for Cooper, whose interview with the U.S. downhiller caused him to break down in tears.
To recap, Miller made history on Sunday when he became the oldest alpine-skiing medalist in Olympic history by taking the bronze in his event.
NBC had been tracking the skier throughout the Sochi Games. Following his record-making victory on Sunday, reporter Cooper asked the obviously emotional athlete about the loss of his younger brother, snowboarder Chelone (Chilly) Miller, who passed away from a seizure last year.
Miller lost control of his emotions and was barely able to continue the interview.
In the hours and days to follow, many people said that Cooper pushed Miller too hard during the interview and shouldn’t have referenced his dead brother.
Beyond the immediate Twitter blowback, Cooper was also castigated in the mainstream press for pushing Miller.
To whit: In an Associated Press roundup, New York Times reporter Richard Sandomir called the interview “overkill”; The Sporting News said Cooper “repeatedly badgered” the 36-year-old Miller; and AP itself called the interview “a shameful spectacle.”
NBC, not surprisingly, believes otherwise. From their statement: “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.”
For that matter, even Miller himself is asking people not to fault Cooper, a former World Cup ski champion and silver medalist at the 1984 Sarajevo Winter Games.
On Monday, Miller went on Twitter to post the following comment: “I appreciate everyone sticking up for me. Please be gentle w christen cooper, it was crazy emotional and not all her fault.”
And Miller reiterated his absolution of Cooper during an interview on the Today show on Monday morning.
“I’ve known Christin a long time and she is a sweetheart of a person,” Miller told host Matt Lauer. “I know she didn’t mean to push. I don’t think she really anticipated what my reaction was going to be and I think by the time she sort of realized it, I think it was too late and I don’t really, I don’t blame her at all.”