News Analysis Sep 21, 2021 3:38 PM EST

'MISSING WHITE WOMAN SYNDROME': Don Lemon, Joy Reid criticize Gabby Petito story over race

Joy Reid argued that the Petito case is an example of "missing white woman syndrome."

'MISSING WHITE WOMAN SYNDROME': Don Lemon, Joy Reid criticize Gabby Petito story over race
Hannah Nightingale Washington DC

During Monday night's broadcasting of popular CNN and MSNBC shows, hosts Joy Reid and Don Lemon argued that the case of Gabby Petito, and the subsequent national attention the case has garnered, is evidence of widespread racism in the United States.

During The Reidout with Joy Reid, she argued that the Petito case is an example of "missing white woman syndrome," a term reportedly coined by the late PBS host Gwen Ifill.

Petito, who has been missing since late August after going on a cross country van trip with her fiancé, is presumed dead after remains were found in the Bridger-Teton National Forest that were "consistent with" the description of missing 22-year-old Petito.

"Now it goes without saying that no family should ever have to endure that kind of pain, and the Petito family certainly deserve answers and justice," said Reid. "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 Eiffel, to describe the media and public fascination with missing white women like Laci Peterson or Natalee Holloway, all ignoring cases involving missing people of color," Reid continued.

Reid, talking with guests on her show Derrica Wilson, co founder and CEO of the Black and Missing Foundation, and Lynette gray bull, founder of Not Our Native Daughters, pointed to the case of Daniel Robinson, who went missing in Arizona after last being seen leaving his job site in June, as an example of what she's talking about.

On Don Lemon Tonight, host Don Lemon argued with fellow CNN host Chris Cuomo about the Laundrie family's ability to hire a lawyer, and how many poor Americans and people of color cannot afford such a service.

Cuomo said that the Laundrie family is not talking to authorities because an attorney has advised them not to.

"No, they have a lawyer who has said to them, the police are trying to make a case. If they talk to you, they can use whatever you say, against you. And against Brian, even if you didn't mean it that way," said Cuomo.

"Yes. I don't disagree with that. But to have — to be able to have an attorney and do that. And you ask any person of color? You ask a black man if they have that sort of privilege? Ask a poor white person?" said Lemon.

"It's not a privilege, it's a right," Cuomo stated.

"I know that. I know," Lemon responded. "But most people don't know that. They're not treated that way by law enforcement. Even if you think that, you know, cops are the good guys. Yeah, many times they are. But many times they aren't.

Especially when it comes to people of color and poor people in this society, who don't have the means to be able to stand behind a lawyer and not and not go to speak.

Lemon went on to say that if he wasn't the national news anchor that he is, the police would tell him "Hey, get your butt in here. What do you know about the disappearance of such and such? Why won't you talk? Or do you need a lawyer because you're guilty?"

"Yeah they do that to black people, white people, they do that to a lot of people," Cuomo argued.

"That's what I said," said Lemon. "This is about black people and poor people meaning because all people are poor, I mean, not all people, but there are people of all different ethnicities who are poor, and they don't have the privilege of being able to afford an attorney who will tell them that they can't go in."

"What did you say to me today using you until you're arrested that's when you are assigned an attorney for free if you otherwise before then you got to shell out some dough," Lemon continued.

"You have to shell out some dough. But you don't need a lawyer just need to know your rights," said Cuomo.

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