KTVU has reportedly’suspended indefinitely’ Bay Area anchor Frank Somerville
According to The Mercury News, KTVU news anchor Frank Somerville has been taken off the air.
Following a disagreement over continued coverage of the Gabby Petito missing person and homicide case, Somerville, 63, was reportedly “suspended indefinitely” by Channel 2 management.
Petito’s body was discovered in Wyoming earlier this week after she was reported missing while on a cross-country camping trip with her boyfriend, bringing the conflict to a head.
The hunt for Petito has caused a national media frenzy, while some journalists, most notably MSNBC’s Joy Reid, have claimed that the coverage has been excessive. Reid is one of those who believes that the media’s coverage of Petito’s disappearance is an example of what late journalist and broadcaster Gwen Ifill called “missing White woman syndrome,” in which the media focuses disproportionately on missing white women and girls while ignoring similar cases of missing women of color.
Somerville, who is the father of a Black adopted daughter, is said to have shared these ideas, and wanted to include a quick tagline at the end of a scheduled straight news program updating the circumstances of the case criticizing the unprecedented media coverage Petito’s story had received. His request was apparently met with resistance from KTVU news director Amber Eikel, who claimed the phrase was offensive. The next day, station management reportedly told Somerville of his “indefinite suspension.”
The news comes only weeks after Somerville returned to KTVU airwaves after a mysterious nine-week hiatus from the station’s “The Ten O’Clock News” show. Somerville continually slurred and tripped over his words when reading from a teleprompter during a May 30 newscast, just prior to his summer break.