Longtime News Anchor Fired Over Gabby Petito Coverage?

It sounds like San Francisco will have to go without its “Let’s Be Frank” segments.

Longtime KTVU news anchor Frank Somerville was “indefinitely suspended” back in September, reportedly over a disagreement over the coverage of the Gabby Petito case. Innerestingly, the difference of opinion was over a proposed editorial segment lasting less than a minute.

According to multiple sources at the time, Somerville proposed a moment at the end of one of Channel 2’s updates on the case of the murdered YouTuber in which he would question “the extraordinary level of media coverage devoted to the story.” The 63-year-old was interested in pointing out the historic discrepancy between coverage of missing persons cases when they involved white women and people of color, what journalist Gwen Ifill called “missing white woman syndrome.”

Seems fair, especially if it’s in the interest of growth. The Gabby Petito case was kind of a perfect storm of social media information, intrigue, and infuriating police mistakes. As such it has garnered disproportionate interest even among “missing white woman” cases. And we’ve also seen the reminders of media bias lead to the spotlight being spread to other cases, including those of Lauren Cho and Daniel Robinson.

But Somerville’s superiors at the Fox affiliate apparently disagreed with the need for such a segment. KTVU news director Amber Eikel shut down the idea, and the disagreement allegedly led directly to his suspension. Sources at the station explained that an abridged version of the “tag” appeared in a later newscast even after he had been told no, which may explain the network’s decision to suspend the news vet.

Now, after nearly 30 years with the station, Somerville says he doesn’t expect to be allowed to return to his job. He told The San Francisco Chronicle on Tuesday:

“My guess is that I’m not coming back to Channel 2. That’s just a guess. But I have no reason to think otherwise.”

Somerville told the publication he has been on paid leave since the suspension, so as punishments go, it’s good lack of work if you can get it. Despite his suspension inspiring protests outside the station, he tells viewers so far as he knows, “they’re not bringing me back.” He even gave something of a goodbye speech, saying:

“I want to thank all the people at Channel 2 — the writer, the producers, the editors and the photographers — because they are the backbone of the station.”

Seems like a class act.

Somerville is the adopted father of a Black daughter and has been vocal on issues of racial justice over the past couple years, including Black Lives Matter.

What do YOU think about Somerville apparently being fired?

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