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News Anchor Suspended After Calling Out Station's Excessive Coverage Of Gabby Petito Case

News Anchor Suspended After Calling Out Station's Excessive Coverage Of Gabby Petito Case
KTVU FOX 2 San Francisco/YouTube

Local news anchor, Frank Somerville has been suspended after a disagreement with his station's management over a tagline he wanted to run.

Someville, who's been with KTVU for nearly 30 years and is a fixture in the San Francisco Bay area, tried to discuss the racial disparity in how the media reports stories, using the coverage of Gabby Petito as an example.

When he brought up the 46-second tagline, the disagreement he had with the director Amber Eikel about the subject led to his suspension.

For weeks, the news has been closely covering the search for Petito, a White female blogger who went missing while travelling with her fiancé Brian Laundrie. Eventually, her body was discovered, leading to a search for Laundrie as the prime suspect.

The extensive media coverage of first her disappearance then every tiny detail since has even led QAnon conspiracy theorists to claim the couple are actually crisis actors.

Somerville's disagreement and suspension happened just before Petito was discovered. At the time, the news anchor—himself the father of a Black daughter—wanted to highlight the disparity in how the media responds to a missing White woman versus a woman of color.

For comparison, in a nine year period 710 Indigenous people—mostly females—went missing in the same are as Petito. Their disappearances garnered little to no media coverage and most cases remain unresolved.

Like Somerville suggested for his own station, some news outlets are now examining that disparity.

While this disparity has now been pointed out and discussed by critics online, Somerville wanted a 46-second tagline to address it on air.

Instead, he was suspended.

About a week after Somerville was suspended, KTVU ran a story about the disparity between missing White women and everyone else in news coverage.

People wondered where they got that idea.

None of this is to say it's wrong to report on Petito's disappearance or search for her killer.

But BIPOC are asking news media to do the same for others and to not punish employees who try to tip the balance.

And it could start by giving Somerville his job back and let him do a deeper piece on the subject.