Bay Area Fox affiliate suspends anchor who wanted to point out racial disparity in Gabby Petito coverage

Bay Area Fox affiliate suspends anchor who wanted to point out racial disparity in Gabby Petito coverage

On Monday, September 20, liberal MSNBC host Joy Reid addressed media coverage of the Gabby Petito missing person case — stressing that while Petito, a 22-year-old white female, should certainly be covered, it's wrong that there isn't "the same media attention when people of color go missing." Reid's comments have inspired a great deal of discussion, and in the Bay Area, anchor Frank Somerville has been suspended by KTVU-TV Channel 2 (a Fox affiliate) after a dispute over a tagline that would have noted the disparity Reid pointed out.

According to Bay Area News Group reporter Chuck Barney, "KTVU was prepared to air a news report detailing the latest developments in the case. Somerville wanted to add a brief tagline at the end of the report that questioned the extraordinary level of media coverage devoted to the story. Sources said he wanted to point out that the U.S. media often disproportionately covers tragedies involving young white women, while largely ignoring similar cases involving women of color and indigenous people."

Barney reports that the 63-year-old Sommerville, whose adopted teenage daughter is Black, "was told that the tagline was inappropriate, and he apparently pushed back on it."

"There was no word on how heated the discussion got," Barney notes. "Sources said that Somerville was informed by station management the next day that he was being suspended."

Petito was reported missing in August, and her body was found in Wyoming last week. The FBI issued an arrest warrant for her 23-year-old fiancé, Brian Laundrie.

Reid, during her September 20 commentary on "The ReidOut," told viewers, "The Petito family certainly deserves answers and justice, but the way this story captivated the nation has many wondering why not the same media attention when people of color go missing? Well, the answer actually has a name: Missing White Woman Syndrome, the term coined by the late and great Gwen Ifill to describe the media and public fascination with missing White women like Laci Peterson or Natalee Holloway while ignoring cases involving of people of color."

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