Frank Somerville, anchor for Fox Bay Area news affiliate KTVU, has been pulled off air by the network over a behind-the-scenes dispute concerning coverage of the Gabby Petito missing persons case.
According to The Mercury News, Somerville wanted to add a tagline to a segment about the Petito case pointing out the disparity in coverage of missing persons cases of white women relative to women of color. The disparity has become part of the national conversation surrounding the Petito case after MSNBC host Joy Reid brought it up on her show “The ReidOut” this past Monday.
“The Petito family certainly deserves answers and justice,” Reid said. “ 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.”
The Mercury News said that Somerville, who has an adopted Black daughter, pushed back after the tagline was refused, though there was no information on how heated the discussion got. His indefinite suspension comes just six weeks after ending a previous leave of absence for health issues when he struggled to read his teleprompter and slurred his words during a broadcast in May.
TheWrap has reached out to KTVU for additional comment.
Petito, 22, had been reported missing earlier this month while on a camping trip and was found dead in Wyoming last week. An arrest warrant has been issued by the FBI for Petito’s fiance, Brian Laundrie.