Joy Reid has dubbed the news coverage of the disappearance of Gabby Petito a case of “missing white woman syndrome” and questioned if people of color involved in similar cases are given the same level of attention by the media.
Petito, the 22-year-old woman who went missing while on a road trip with her boyfriend, has dominated headlines across the world over the past week.
Reid discussed the latest developments in the disappearance on Monday’s ReidOut and said that while Petito’s family deserve answers and justice, missing persons cases don’t reach the same level of national attention when it involves 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?” Reid said.
“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.”
Reid referenced the case of geologist Daniel Robinson, a 24-year-old Black man, who went missing earlier this year.
.@GreyBull4WY and @DerricaWilson join #TheReidOut to discuss the disparities in media coverage of missing persons. #reiders pic.twitter.com/DZuz2gNBAN— The ReidOut (@thereidout) September 20, 2021
Robinson was last seen on June 23 driving a Jeep Renegade from his work site near Sun Valley Parkway and Cactus Road.
During a panel discussion, Reid said she had “never heard of it until this friend of mine sent it to me. And I guess, that’s the issue, isn’t it?”
Panelist Derrica Wilson of Black and Missing Foundation agreed, adding: “It is definitely the issue.
“And we have been sounding the alarm for nearly 14 years because of this. When it comes to missing persons of color, men, women and children, our cases are not taken seriously and no one is looking for us if we were to go missing.”
Reid also noted that missing indigenous people do not receive the same level of media attention, and asked panelist Lynette Grey Bull of the Not Our Native Daughters Foundation her thoughts.
“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,” Grey Bull said.
Meanwhile, Fox News reporter, Raymond Arroyo is being criticized for calling the Petito case a “huge distraction” from domestic and international events.
“This is like a Lifetime movie, an ongoing mini-series for America. But I think it’s basically a local story, it’s a missing person. God bless her and this family I hope they get to the bottom of it, but I do worry we’re spending way too much time on this case, like Natalee Holloway,” Arroyo said.
Petito was first reported missing on September 11, more than two months after leaving for a cross-country road trip and 10 days after her boyfriend Brian Laundrie returned home without her.
A major search is now underway for Laundrie, who has been identified as a person of interest, after police discovered what is believed to be Petito’s body on the outskirts of Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming.