(Not a case of American journalism at its finest)
The death of young American Gabby Petito while on a trip across the United States with her boyfriend has both shocked the country and drawn plenty of media attention.
Teton County Coroner Dr Brent Blue pronounced that Petito was strangled to death three to four weeks before her body was found in the Wyoming wilderness.
Gabby Petito was a vibrant 22-year-old young woman with a full life ahead of her. Her demise is a cause for dismay and one can only sympathise with her parents and family at a time when they are going through anguish and loss.
Her death has been ruled a homicide and the search continues for her missing fiancé, Brian Laundrie.
It has been widely reported that there was a domestic dispute between the young couple that had led to physical abuse.
Gabby Petito’s death is a nightmare for any parent regardless of race, religion, creed or socio-economic standing. What happened to Gabby was tragic.
But MSNBC’s Joy Reid didn’t see it that way, using it to “racialise” the case, making it less of a human tragedy and more of an inflamed US racial bifurcation touchpoint.
Reid on her prime time show, The ReidOut said: “The Petito family certainly deserve answers and justice but the way the story has captivated the nation has many wondering why not the same media attention when people of colour go missing?”
“Well the actual answer has a name – Missing White Woman Syndrome, the term coined by the late and great Gwen Ifil to describe the media and public fascination with missing white women like Laci Peterson or Natalee Hollaway while ignoring missing people of colour,” Reid continued.
This is typical of the diminution of American media today where everything is determined on racial and partisan lines. This now means that media bosses now feel the need to be inclusive, racially sensitive and some employ people using that criteria rather than focusing on talent and ability. Political correctness has become the definitive barometer.
Once hired, these people then get onto platforms and espouse their agendas unashamedly forgoing the tenets of the craft.
A young girl went missing which captured the attention of Americans. She has been discovered dead; her life prematurely taken away. Does the colour of her skin really matter?
Rather than lend solace and succour to this mystery, Reid couldn’t resist the Pavlovian racial call to make it a divisive issue.
That being said, it is indeed concerning when people go missing and meet a terrible fate. The grief it elicits is heartbreaking and should stir our humanity. This should be so regardless of the unfortunate person’s race and colour.
There should never be anything critical or theoretical about that!
Rather than been astute enough to recognize this, Reid who was propelled to the front line of MSNBC’s roster of on-air talking heads, saw fit to bring up racial disparities and to employ Petito in a reductive way.
It is sad when people of colour go missing and cases should be brought to everyone’s attention and not be summarily dismissed. But it is also the case that it is heart-wrenching when anyone’s life is ended by violence, alone and crying for help.
Joy Reid did not see this. She failed to express true sympathy, she failed to show a mother’s love and pain for what has befallen a child.
This is the world we live in today—despite the advances in technology we continue to lose our humanity. America is replete with media broadcasters than can only see the world from their singular prism. No wonder people do not trust the media and take what it says with a pinch of salt.
Reid was not gracious enough to convey condolence, commiseration or consolation, choosing to frame the Petito family’s misfortune with conjunction.
MSNBC has some good and experienced broadcasters such as Brian Williams, Rachel Maddow, Joe Scarborough, Mika Brzezinski, Lawrence O’Donnell and Stephanie Ruhule who really should intercede here.
They need to take Joy Reid aside and counsel her, get her to step off the solipsism soapbox and embrace a more inclusive perspective.
That, mind you, will never happen. Why? Because the fear of being branded ‘racist’ or ‘insensitive to black issues,’ or for that matter, trying to tell a black journalist how to do their job is a scarlet letter they are not prepared to wear.
Why should they? Being stigmatised this way has proven detrimental and likely to eviscerate your life as you once knew it. Many have succumbed to this twenty-first-century heresy.
R.I.P. Gabby Petito. You left this world far too soon.