Bode Miller cried.
And America fumed.
At least Bob Costas was back on Monday night in prime time, completed with his Mr. Magoo
goggles glasses .
Of all the journalistic crimes committed by NBC concerning these Olympics, what interviewer Christin Cooper did during her infamous chat with Miller was the most benign and hardly the most cringe-worthy.
She asked Miller about his emotions concerning his late brother Chelone following his bronze medal run on Sunday. After four questions on the subject, Miller eventually broke down in tears and he was seen on camera crying for 75 seconds while both lying on the ground before being hugged by his wife.
Miller came to Cooper's defense on Twitter and elsewhere:
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
Cooper actually puts her arm on Miller to comfort him during this "interview," something that obliterates whatever alleged boundaries exist between the Olympic athletes and these sports-centric experts hired to offer insight.
At least Jenny Dell kept her distance from Will Middlebrooks while on camera.
Cooper won a skiing silver medal in the 1984 Olympics. She's appeared as an analyst during several Winter Olympiads but she's neither a sports journalist nor an objective sportscaster. Nor does she pretend to be one. Her job is as much to explain and promote the sport she's covering, as it is to deliver any real news.
The clip that triggered so much ire against her was edited for broadcast several hours after it occurred. NBC's Olympic producers presented exactly what they wanted to offer their audience - an American medal with a side-order of one-time 24/7/365 Party Boy Bode showing his all-growed-up humanity. They could have cut any or all of her interview, or the ensuing gut-wrenching reaction, if they felt she went beyond any imaginary line.
If anything, Cooper was just like Mongo: "Pawn in game of life."
The personal lives of athletes are of little concern in most situations. But NBC's tape-delayed coverage makes the personal stories of these Olympic athletes paramount. It's more mini-series than sporting event. This was a can't-miss line of questioning and a botched attempt at drawing out Miller's softer side.
Here again, it's NBC just giving its audience - you and me - what they think we want to see since these events being shown in prime time occurred anywhere between nine and 18 hours beforehand.
Her bosses certainly encouraged Cooper's line of questioning, and the director and editor purposefully lingered on Miller crying in the broadcast version of what transpired. They did so because they correctly guessed it would draw some much-needed attention.
Winter Olympic ratings are down from the Vancouver Games. Until T.J. Oshie's epic shootout performance Saturday, the Sochi Olympics were best-known for a never ending stream of problems from non-working toilets and door-less hotel rooms, to a city-wide pooch purge and Vladimir Putin's basic disregard for human rights.
These "up close and personal" moments, like the back-story behind Miller's emotions Sunday, are often sanitized for our protection. Cooper didn't ask Miller about the child he fathered with Sara McKenna, with whom he had a "fling" with right before meeting his current wife, or his other pending paternity case, or the fact that his wife Morgan sadly miscarried during her pregnancy last year.
None of this matters when it comes to judging him as a skier.
The fact that Miller is 36 and won his sixth Olympic medal in his fifth Olympics is both impressive and slightly disturbing. He hinted again Monday about a possible run at 2018. If you can make a living doing this, great. But at the same time, it might be time to move on with life.
Miller is far from not alone in this category. The driver on the infamous Jamaican bobsled team is 47. There's a Nepalese cross-country skier in Sochi who is 44. Mexico's lone Winter Olympian is a 55-year old German prince and skier who speaks five languages and has an Olympic resume that goes back to 1984. At least the guy from Nepal didn't finish in last place in his event.
Fatherhood as a whole is fairly nonexistent in Sochi, at least among member of the USA Olympic team. Watching NBC, you might think every member of Team USA came to be as the result an Immaculate Conception, or nameless sperm donor, and was raised exclusively by a single mom.
NBC and its commercial partner Proctor and Gamble has been bombarding us with one spot/featurette after another about how "Mom" was the lone and sole driving force for getting little Tommy or Tiffany to the Olympics.
This, too, is what NBC believes its viewers want to see. Procter and Gamble is also paying NBC millions to make sure "Mom's" the word. When the Winter Games began, P&G already had 15.8 million views for its "Pick them Back Up" YouTube video about moms helping their kids after childhood stumbles.
Dad rarely fits into this equation.
One of the most memorable moments after Team USA beat Finland 4-2 to win the gold medal in 1980 at Lake Placid was watching flag-draped goalie Jim Craig look up into the stands asking where his father and "best friend" was sitting. Craig's mom had died in 1977. He later said wanted to find his dad in the stands "to show respect" for what both his parents had done for him.
That game was actually broadcast live on ABC.
A similar moment wouldn't fit in NBC's game plan this time. At least not the "dad" part. The actual NBC network is planning to air next Sunday's men's hockey gold medal game live starting at 7 a.m.
NBC's Network-Wide Olympic Patricide broke through the thoroughly-absurd barrier on Monday when Tina Oshie, T.J's mom, stopped by the TODAY show.
She was chatting with Al, Natalie and Willie when even she had enough of fatherly exclusion. "The way [T.J. has] carried himself since that game is such a tribute to you," Willie Geist slobbered. "He's incredibly humble and unselfish. Obviously, he's got a great mom."
Tina Oshie interrupted him. "His father has something to do with that, too. He's very, very supportive."
He might be, but don't tell NBC.
There aren't enough tears in it.
And far too many dads.
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