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Monday, February 17, 2014

NBC's Olympic "Cry Porn" Scheme Backfires

Posted by Wm.™ Steven Humphrey on Mon, Feb 17, 2014 at 10:44 AM

One thing I really, really, REALLY can't stand about NBC's coverage of the Olympics are the excessively over-produced athlete bio segments. Here's what I said about 'em in this week's I Love Television:

But this whole Winter Olympics thing—with the hours and hours of figure skating, and cross-country skiing, and maudlin, overlong biographies of athletes who were born without tailbones but after years of personal and spiritual struggle were able to overcome their disability and become the number one curling broom sweeper in the nation—IT'S JUST TOO FAWKING MUCH IF YOU KNOW WHAT I'M SAYING.

I suppose it's a good thing to see these athletes as human, and not just steroid-addled monkeys performing for our jingoistic enjoyment—but this interview that NBC's Christin Cooper did with bronze-medal winning Olympian Bode Miller is nothing but grotesque "cry porn."

Twitter exploded yesterday in reaction to the interview, pointing their fingers directly at the reporter's questions. Yes, Bode did bring up the subject of his brother, and yes, it's a journalist's job to push to get to the truth. BUT. This reporter already had the truth. You could plainly see it in Bode's eyes after he talked about his brother. Cooper asked two more leading questions after that. And was what she was asking even constitute as "journalism"? Watch how these NBC reporters work during interviews and while commentating, and I dare you to take a drink every time they ask the question, "What does winning this mean for this athlete?" You will fall into an alcoholic coma very quickly. Obviously it "means" that they would rather "win" than "lose." That's not a good question, and it's not "journalism." It's stalling. It's eating up time. It's being bereft of ideas.

Anyway, this morning Bode went on the Today Show to talk about the incident, and once again, NBC refuses to accept responsibility for their tepid coverage, and practically begs Bode to absolve them. Here's the report from Deadline, and note how Matt Lauer leads the witness:

This morning, on Today, Matt Lauer set things up: “We saw a very emotional side of you Bode after the race, not only in a tweet you sent out, but also in that interview that’s getting a lot of attention. And the interviewer is getting a lot of attention too. Christin Cooper is being criticized by some for pushing too far on questions about the death of your brother. I just would like your take on that.”

“I’ve known Cristin a long time. She’s a sweetheart of a person. I know she didn’t mean to push,” Miller responded. “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 was too late."

Clearly, Bode is a class act. Better than NBC deserves. And while I don't think Cooper was a monster, I think she knew exactly what she was doing. She's following NBC "cry porn" culture to the letter.

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