TV anchor Frank Somerville 'pulled off air' over Gabby Petito dispute after Joy Reid's 'missing white women' comments

A TV anchor has been pulled off air over his coverage of the Gabby Petito case just days after Joy Reid's "missing white women" comments.

Frank Somerville has reportedly been "suspended indefinitely" after a behind-the-scenes disagreement about his coverage of 22-year-old Petito's disappearance.


Petito had been on a road trip with her fiancé Brian Laundrie when she disappeared. Her body was found by detectives last Sunday.

Laundrie, 23, returned home alone on September 1 to Florida – where the couple lived with his parents – but he has since gone missing.

Police have named Laundrie as a "person of interest" in the case.

Somerville, 63, wanted to add a tagline to a segment about the case to point out the disparity in the coverage of missing persons cases of white women relative to women of color, The Mercury News reports.

Somerville, who has an adopted black daughter, reportedly pushed back after the tagline was refused.

There was no word on how heated the discussion got.

Sources told The Mercury News that Somerville was informed by station management the next day that he was being suspended.

His suspension comes just six weeks after a previous leave of absence for health issues when he struggled to read his teleprompter and slurred his words during a broadcast in May.

Read our Gabby Petito live blog for the very latest news and updates…

It comes after MSNBC host Joy Reid brought it up on her show last 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 way this story captivated the nation has many wondering why not the same media attention when people of color go missing?

His indefinite suspension comes just six weeks after a previous leave of absence for health issues when he struggled to read his teleprompter and slurred his words during a broadcast in May.

Reid was hosting a discussion with representatives from the Black and Missing Foundation and Not Our Native Daughters Foundation when she made the comments.

Speaking about the case of missing geologist Daniel Robinson, she added: "I never heard of it until this friend of mine sent it to me.

“And I guess, that’s the issue, isn’t it?”

Robinson was seen on June 23 — driving away from his location of work in the Buckeye, Arizona desert. 

The missing 24-year-old was reportedly working as a field geologist for Matrix New World Engineering.

He had been driving his Jeep Renegade when it crashed multiple times and ultimately landed in a ravine.

Robinson's cellphone, wallet, keys, were discovered at the scene of the crash but he was nowhere to be found.

'DISGRACEFUL'

Reid acknowledged that "no family should ever have to endure that kind of pain" that Petito's loved ones have.

But her words on "missing white woman syndrome" sparked a furious backlash online with Twitter users calling her comments "vile" and "trashy".

One Twitter user wrote: "Flat out disgraceful."

Another added: "When is the last time you reported on a POC missing @JoyAnnReid?"

And GOP candidate Lavern Spicer said: "This is pure evil speaking."

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