Tahlequah Daily Press


February 19, 2014

NBC interviewer’s crass behavior embarrassing to media professionals

TAHLEQUAH — Just because an individual is an acknowledged expert in a particular field doesn’t mean he is qualified to serve as a media correspondent.

True, a few professional football players have made the transition to sportscaster, and Olympic athletes have written books that topped the bestseller list. And it’s common during sporting events for networks to use athletes as sources or color commentators. But the boorish behavior NBC “correspondent” Christin Cooper exhibited during an interview with Olympic alpine ski racer Bode Miller stands as stark proof that prowess on the slopes doesn’t necessarily translate into skill as an interviewer.

Cooper was a member of the U.S. Ski Team in the late 1970s and early ‘80s, and if an accident in 1983 hadn’t forced her to retire in 1984, she might have had a longer run. It’s clear she knows her sport; what’s not clear is whether she received any formal training in the art of interviewing, or any aspect of the media field. If she did, she had a lousy trainer, and she gave people everywhere another reason to detest “talking heads” and lump them all into the same unsavory category.

During the Olympics, networks always try to dredge up heart-wrenching snippets about the athletes in hopes of extracting from viewers a few tears, or at least a warm-and-fuzzy feeling, between events. For a Canadian skier, the inside story was a brother with cerebral palsy. Another skier was touted for her campaign to save cheetahs.

NBC found the perfect mark in Miller, whose younger brother tragically died last year. The topic had arisen several times already, so it wasn’t breaking news when Cooper brought it up Sunday; it was a tired old story line that had already been worked over by other interviewers.

Miller was shut out of the medals in earlier races, but managed to snag a bronze during Sunday’s Super G. That’s when Cooper showcased her spectacular incompetence and insensitivity. It wasn’t enough to ask once about the dead brother; perhaps expecting to get a new revelation on how Miller “felt,” she repeated herself several times, with Miller becoming increasingly emotional as the senseless inquisition continued.

Cooper’s first question was a variant of the most trite one an interviewer can ask: “Bode, you’re showing so much emotion down here. What’s going through  your mind?” His answer should have been a cue to move on to something more useful: “A lot, obviously. A long struggle coming in here. And, uh, just a tough year.”

But Cooper, perhaps not clever enough to come up with anything profound on the spot, pressed on: “I know you wanted to be here with Chilly experiencing these games. How much does it mean to you to come up with a great performance for him? And was it for him?” And finally, the most ridiculous of her blatherings: “When you’re looking up in the sky at the start, we see you there and it just looks like you’re talking to somebody. What’s going on there?”

Legitimate media members watching this display were as mortified as other viewers. Many joined the legions of outraged folks who were tweeting 140-character assaults on Cooper’s character. Others opined about it on blogs or follow-up news stories. For his part, Miller asked fans to be gentle with Cooper, and he was forgiving of what he regarded as a mistake. But that was no error; it was a time-honored talking-head ploy that went too far and backfired. Miller’s attitude even prompted some skeptics to suggest the pair cooked up the scene for effect – which also makes a statement about how the public sees the media.

Anyone wondering about the difference between a true media professional and a performer like Cooper should consider the kind of information sought. Is it something the public really wants and needs to know, or is it just grandstanding and sensationalism? In the case of sports, at least, viewers want to know how the athletes did, and whether they won. How they “feel” is of little concern. People like Cooper need to figure that out.

Text Only
  • Tourism Council and chamber should cut the proverbial cord

    They are defined by two separate purposes and operate under two distinctive sets of bylaws, but years of conflicting opinions have left lingering questions and confusion over the relationship between the decades-old Tahlequah Area Chamber of Commerce and the younger Tahlequah Area Tourism Council.

    July 30, 2014

  • NSU needs to be more candid when its plans go awry

    Many area residents were disappointed to learn this week that the NSU Fitness Center, and its all-important indoor lap pool, won’t open next month, as originally announced.
    This latest delay is no surprise.

    July 28, 2014

  • Higher premiums a just reward for drunken drivers

    Over the past several years, Oklahoma has slipped in many of the polls that count. This week, we learned Tulsa is No. 4 on a list of cities with high rates of fatal DUI accidents. Is anyone really surprised?

    July 25, 2014

  • Maybe it’s time to think about having another BalloonFest

    The 18th annual BalloonFest was the last one held, in 2010. In summer 2011, when the Daily Press staff hadn’t heard anything about the much-anticipated event, we started asking questions.

    July 23, 2014

  • If you see a drunken driver, take the time to call in a report

    If you see something, say something. You’ve heard the warning, and seen it imprinted on placards at airports. In the wake of 9/11, it became a national mantra, mainly aimed at spotting potential terrorist activities. But it’s good advice anytime, and for any reason, even at the local level.

    July 14, 2014

  • City officials should stop squabbling and try to work together

    It’s bad enough that the Chamber of Commerce scandal has given Tahlequah a black eye. But if the bickering among city officials doesn’t stop, the community will have a complete set of shiners for its public face.

    July 11, 2014

  • Only full disclosure will restore trust in the chamber

    Despite pressure from some quarters, neither the Press nor anyone else who values full disclosure will be clamming up until all the facts are known, and those who are responsible meet with justice.

    July 10, 2014

  • Only full disclosure will restore trust in the chamber

    A few board members for the Tahlequah Area Chamber of Commerce are saying they’ve heard nothing but positive things lately – about the chamber itself, and presumably, about themselves.

    July 9, 2014

  • Employer-sponsored insurance may now be a ‘hostage’ situation

    When the fallout settles from the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision, many Americans might decide they’re better off with health insurance that doesn’t come from their boss.

    July 7, 2014

  • With confidence in Congress at 7 percent, time for a new slate

    Note to Congress: We don’t like you. Not at all.
    A Gallup poll released Monday, June 30 confirmed what most of us already know: the American public is disgusted with the House and Senate. The survey recorded the lowest level of confidence since Gallup began asking the question in 1991: a whopping 7 percent. That’s not a typographical error; it’s a single digit.

    July 2, 2014


Do you believe school administrators and college presidents in Oklahoma are paid too much?

Strongly agree.
Somewhat agree.
Somewhat disagree.
Strongly disagree.
     View Results
Tahlequah Daily Press Twitter
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Southern Accent Reduction Class Cancelled in TN Raw: Deadly Landslide Hits Indian Village Obama Chides House GOP for Pursuing Lawsuit New Bill Aims to Curb Sexual Assault on Campus Russia Counts Cost of New US, EU Sanctions 3Doodler Bring 3-D Printing to Your Hand Six PA Cops Indicted for Robbing Drug Dealers Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey Raw: Obama Eats Ribs in Kansas City In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast Raw: Otters Enjoy Water Slides at Japan Zoo NCAA Settles Head-injury Suit, Will Change Rules Raw: Amphibious Landing Practice in Hawaii Raw: Weapons Fire Hits UN School in Gaza Raw: Rocket Launches Into Space With Cargo Ship Broken Water Main Floods UCLA