News anchor suspended for request for coverage of ‘missing white woman syndrome’


A Bay Area presenter has been “indefinitely suspended” for asking to cover “missing white woman syndrome” in connection with the Gabby Petito case, The Mercury News reported.

KTVU presenter Frank Somerville has been taken off the air due to a dispute in the press room involving the coverage of the Petito affair. Somerville, the father of a black adopted daughter, is said to have asked for a brief slogan to be added calling attention to the disproportionate media coverage missing white women tend to receive compared to women of color.

The Mercury News noted that the term used to describe the media phenomenon, “missing white woman syndrome,” was coined by the late PBS presenter Gwen Ifill.

At the end of 2020, 45% of the FBI’s 89,000 active missing persons cases were people of color, according to an ABC News report.

Somerville’s request to add the under 30-second sidebar was reportedly denied by KTVU chief information officer Amber Eikel, who called the tagline inappropriate. The next day, Somerville was informed of his indefinite suspension.

The three-time Emmy winner had previously been suspended from the network following an incident in which he allegedly scrambled his speech on air on a May 30 newscast.

Petito’s case has sparked nationwide interest in recent weeks after his disappearance on September 11. Authorities recovered his remains last week and considered his death a homicide. The FBI has since issued an arrest warrant for Brian Laundrie, Petito’s fianc√©, who has been missing for two weeks.

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