Just this once: Joy Reid Is … Right?
Nearly all my fellow conservatives are shrieking in anger at MSNBC’s Joy Reid for saying something that is actually true: There is such a thing as “Missing White Woman Syndrome,” and we ought to call it out when — as in the case of Gabby Petito — it dominates the news cycle:But she's right for the wrong reason:MSNBC host Joy Reid turned to race Monday while discussing the media’s coverage of missing 22-year-old Gabby Petito, dismissing the focus on the case as “missing White woman syndrome.”Yes — Natalee Holloway, whose disappearance gave Greta Van Susteren a permanent excuse to travel to Aruba for “reporting” the case.
During a segment on her show “The ReidOut,” Reid said while Petito’s family deserved “answers and justice,” she felt the same media attention didn’t apply to non-White people when they go missing.
“It goes without saying that no family should ever have to endure that kind of pain. And the Petito family certainly deserves answers and justice,” Reid said. “But the way this story has 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 Iffil to describe the media and public fascination with missing White women like Laci Peterson or Natalee Holloway, while ignoring cases involving missing people of color,” she added, referencing two well-known cases of missing women.
Beyond the cynical calculations of ratings-hungry TV news producers, however, what’s really wrong with Missing White Woman Syndrome is not the kind of “social justice” concerns Joy Reid is talking about. No, what’s wrong is that it feeds the public’s distorted ideas about crime.
How many people are murdered in America annually? Nearly 14,000 in 2019, according to the FBI, and about 78% of the victims were male. In terms of statistical risk, then, males were nearly four times more likely to be murdered than women, but how many of those murdered men become national news? Not many. And how many murder victims are white? About 5,800 in 2019 — 42% of the total — whereas blacks were 54% of the total murders. There were 1,759 white women murdered in 2019 — 12.6% of the total, according to the FBI — compared to 6,446 black males, 46.3% of the total. So the death of Gabby Petito was anomalous, a comparative rarity in the overall crime situation in America.
A blonde, blue-eyed “social media influencer” is not typical of murder victims, who are disproportionately male and black. During the month of August, when Gabby and her boyfriend were on their excursion across the West, 87 people were killed and 424 were wounded in Chicago. Did any of those Chicago victims make national news? Well, about 83% of the victims in Chicago were black, and none were blonde, blue-eyed 22-year-old “social media influencers.” Not newsworthy, you see?
The selectivity of the news media in deciding which murders deserve national attention is a sort of bias that most people never notice. Why does the death of one black in police custody become a cause célèbre, while the vast majority of murdered black men — about 125 a week, on average — never get any national media attention? Because the death of George Floyd fit a specific political narrative. And why does the disappearance of a blonde girl with an Instagram account get hourly updates on the cable-news networks? Because it’s a convenient distraction from the disastrous failure of Joe Biden’s presidency.
Think about it. During the four years of Trump’s presidency, was there any case of a Missing White Woman that got this kind of attention?
Think of something else — what happened to all the black guys getting killed by cops? Did that just stop happening on January 20? It’s almost as if the media’s concern about black victims of police violence was just ginned up to help Democrats win the election. But that can’t be — these are professional journalists, after all, and we can trust them. Right?
Wrong. I hate to be that cynical, but alas, that's world we live in.