There was no doubt that NBC was going for gut. The camera pushed in tight for the whole interview with Bode Miller on Sunday.
Christin Cooper: I know you wanted to be here with Chelly (his brother who died recently), 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: I don’t know if it’s really for him but I wanted to come here and, I dunno, make myself proud, but … (trails off, THE TEAR finally emerging).
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?
Miller: (breaks down and cries, Cooper puts an arm on him)
You could practically hear the high-fives back in the control room. Yet another emotional moment squeezed out of an athlete for Olympic gold.
There was nothing spontaneous about the moment. It had happened nine hours earlier and was airing in prime-time. It wasn’t the first. It certainly won’t be the last. But this time viewers weren’t eating it up.
Within minutes of Miller walking away from the camera, posts were pouring in from people complaining about the interview, saying it was far too heavy-handed. The sentiment was 9:1 negative, according to Topsy.
“I’ve never seen a reporter be more pathetic than the NBC lady who interviewed Bode Miller. She wouldn’t rest until he broke down in front of her,” a Reddit user posted. By the end of the evening there were more than 120 comments in the thread.
“NBC is clueless and treats the Olympics like manufactured reality TV. And the worst part? We have to deal with them until 2020,” one pointed out.
Stirring emotion is always part of the formula for TV broadcast of the Olympics. It has been going back to the glory days of ABC’s presentations. But this time NBC is really amping it up, or at least the weaker of its crew are—especially when there’s family tragedy to leverage.
Friday night, third-string anchor Meredith Vieira was interviewing skeleton silver medalist Noelle Pikus-Pace. It was rocking along well with a clip of the Olympian climbing into the stands after her run to share the moment with her family.
So, of course, Vieira wants to know how she came back into the sport after having a miscarriage. As you watch this, ask yourself: Would anyone ask this question if the athlete was a man whose wife had suffered such a loss?
But Vieira’s smile and poke was nothing compared to the low blow another USA skeleton racer, Katie Uhlaender, suffered after missing out on a bronze medal by 1/25th of a second. Announcer Lewis Johnson went through all the usual questions about the race, the disappointment of just finishing out of the medals, and Uhlaender’s emotions on watching Pikus-Pace win silver.
Then he asked her what her recently deceased father, baseball star Ted Uhlaender, would think of her race. Really?! She wears her dad’s 1972 Cincinnati Reds National League championship ring on a chain around her neck, along with a small container of his ashes.
WTF do you think he’d say about her run, right after he punched the reporter?
About Project TILWO — I watch Sochi 2014 Olympic coverage on TV and online then share the lessons I learn, with occasional help from my friends. Edited by Lynn Hess @ Premier Proofing.