News personality Frank Somerville faces indefinite suspension, a KTVU confirmed to SFGATE. The story was first carried by the Mercury News.
The 63-year-old Somerville’s removal from the air was rooted in a dispute regarding the current coverage on the missing Gabby Petito’s case.
The source said that the disagreement with the news anchor sprouted when the missing girl’s body was found earlier this week in Wyoming. Petito had gone missing following her trip with her fiancé, Brian Laundrie, who is being considered to play a role in Petito’s death. Laundrie has been issued with an arrest warrant from the FBI.
The majority of the U.S. media attention has been pinned on Petito’s case. The acclaimed Joy Reid from MSNBC, who stands in the belief that Petito’s case can be tagged as what broadcaster Gwen Ifill defined as “missing White woman syndrome,” even argued that the media turmoil is already unwarranted.
This is the same belief Somerville stands with, as he had an adopted Black daughter. The source said he wanted to release a short tagline slamming the unusual media coverage in Petito’s case as he concluded a straight news update on the story.
The source added that the news anchor requested if he could add related information that will not last more than 30 seconds, supplementing the story with details and numbers showing the higher statistics of domestic violence against Black women in America as compared to their White counterparts.
KTVU news director Amber Eikel turned down Somerville’s request, saying his planned tagline was unsuitable. Eikel also examined the news anchor’s judgment to relate Petito’s story to domestic violence as no suspect or suspects were convicted yet in the case. The next day, Somerville was allegedly notified by the station management of his “indefinite suspension.”
It is not the first time Somerville has asked to add more context to the missing case. When the story broke about a month ago, he attempted to provide additional sidebars but was repeatedly snubbed by his colleagues in the newsroom.