Bode Miller doesn't blame NBC reporter Christin Cooper for bringing him to tears at the Sochi Olympics -- and he doesn't think anyone else should either.
Moments after the 36-year-old U.S. alpine skier won a historic bronze medal in the super-G on Sunday, he broke down during an emotional interview with Cooper. She drew criticism from many watching for her repeated questions relating to Miller's brother who died last year. Cooper, a former U.S. skier who won a silver medal at the 1984 Olympics, is serving as an alpine skiing analyst for NBC during the Sochi Games.
"I have known Christin a long time, and she's a sweetheart of a person,'' Miller told Matt Lauer during an appearance on "TODAY" on Monday. "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 realized it, it was too late. I don't blame her at all."
Miller's younger brother, Chelone, died in April 2013 of an apparent seizure at age 29. A snowboarder, Chelone had been aiming to compete in Sochi himself in snowboardcross. After Miller first mentioned his brother during a post-race interview, Cooper asked a series of follow-up questions that left him in tears.
CLICK HERE to watch Cooper interview Miller
Here is a transcript of the portion of the interview that reduced Miller to tears and left Cooper under fire:
Miller: "This was a little different. I think with you know with my brother passing away, I really wanted to come back here and race the way he sensed it. So, this one is different."
Cooper: "Bode, you're showing so much emotion down here, what's going through your mind?"
Miller: "Um, I mean, a lot. Obviously just a long struggle coming in here. It's just a tough year."
Cooper: "I know you wanted to be here with Chilly, really experiencing these games. How much does this mean to you to come up with this great performance ... for him? And was it for him?
Miller: Um, I mean, I don't know if it's really for him but I wanted to come here and, I dunno, I guess make myself proud, but ... "
At that point, Miller trailed off. Cooper filled the silence with one last question.
Cooper: When you're looking up in the sky at the start, we see you there and it looks like you're talking to somebody. What's going on there?
Overcome with emotion, Miller leaned on a nearby fence and wept. He would not answer that final question. When this interview was aired during NBC's prime-time coverage of the Olympics later on Sunday evening, it drew widespread criticism on social media.
Thought questioning of obviously emotional Bode Miller way over the line. Who do you think he was pointing to? Let picture tell the story.
— Alan Robinson (@arobinson_Trib) February 17, 2014
Wow, the thing that interviewer just did to Bode Miller was SUPER disgusting. #Olympics2014
— Linda Holmes (@nprmonkeysee) February 17, 2014
Nice work getting bode miller to break down douchebag reporter.
— Ana Gasteyer (@AnaGasteyer) February 17, 2014
Some announcers just don't know when to stop asking questions-why can't they leave Bodie Miller alone and let him deal with his emotions.
— MIKE ERUZIONE (@MERUZIONE) February 17, 2014
Christin Cooper @ NBC Sports is the absolute worst. There was no journalism in that interview w/ Bode Miller, just badgering & scrounging.
— Carina MacKenzie (@cadlymack) February 17, 2014
Keep in mind that NBC did that interview with Bode Miller about 10 hours ago, saw the result, and still ran the entire fiasco. #smh
— Sage Rosenfels (@SageRosenfels18) February 17, 2014
With the interview having become perhaps the most talked about aspect of the day in Sochi, NBC addressed the backlash in a brief statement.
"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," said the statement released to The Associated Press.
Before joining Lauer on "Today," Miller made a more direct plea with those expressing anger at Cooper for her line of questioning. Following the NBC airing of his bronze medal-winning performance and his teary interview on Sunday evening, Miller tweeted his support of Cooper.
I appreciate everyone sticking up for me. Please be gentle w christin cooper, it was crazy emotional and not all her fault. #heatofthemoment
— Bode Miller (@MillerBode) February 17, 2014
My emotions were very raw, she asked the questions that every interviewer would have, pushing is part of it, she wasnt trying to cause pain.
— Bode Miller (@MillerBode) February 17, 2014
Miller also retweeted a comment made in response to his tweets that suggested he may not have as forgiving an attitude toward anyone at NBC who may have been influencing Cooper's questioning.
— Agent Zero (@Agent_Zeero) February 17, 2014