MSNBC's television host Joy Reid has called the news coverage of the disappearance and death of Gabby Petito a case of "missing white woman syndrome".
During a segment on her show "The ReidOut," Reid highlighted similar incidents leading to disappearance of other people of color. She said, "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 people of color," she said.
Reid also acknowledged the sadness of the Petito case. "It goes without saying that no family should ever endure that type of pain," she said, "and the Petito family certainly deserves answers and justice."
During a panel discussion, Reid cited the case of geologist Daniel Robinson who went missing in June this year. He was last seen on June 23 driving a Jeep Renegade from his work site near Sun Valley Parkway and Cactus Road.
"I never heard of it until this friend of mine sent it to me. And I guess, that's the issue, isn't it?" Reid said.
Panelist Derrica Wilson of Black and Missing Foundation agreed and said, "It is definitely the issue." Cases where people of color, men, women and children go missing are not taken seriously, Wilson said.
"One of the main factors and one of the key factors that a lot of people don't want to talk about is that it's racism. It's systemic racism," said panelist Lynette Grey Bull of the Not Our Native Daughters Foundation.
Reid also argued that the news does not put priority on people of color because of their appearance and that they do not look like relatives of newsroom executives.
Social Media Reactions
Some social media users agreed with Reid's views while others slammed her for bringing the topic of race amid Petito's tragic death. One user wrote, "Joy has already forgotten all the coverage George Floyd got." Another said, "#JoyReid is a racist & bigot, imo. Anyone missing should get massive coverage. Many don't, many do. What's she doing to get the word out when someone goes missing? Oh wait. She's too busy spewing about Trump. Amazing how he still lives in her head, lol."
One comment read, "Always has to play the race card doesn't she. Abhorrent and disgusting."
"Although my heart goes out to any parent that loses a child...she is 100% right...pretty white girl, with handsome boyfriend...makes for good TV...a black or indigenous person would never receive this kind of attention or coverage," twitted one user.
One user wrote, "She has a point, BUT what does her comment do to solve this issue? All it does is cause further divide instead of equality."