Gabby Petito and race-baiting

Joy Reid would like you to believe that the attention over Gabby Petito's disappearance and subsequent death is a result of missing white woman syndrome.  For Reid and other race-baiters like her who make a living over mouthing such inanities, everything that could be about race is about race.  Over a half-million women go missing every year.  Few get any attention, be they white or black.

Before her disappearance, Petito had over half a billion (that's right: billion) hits on TikTok alone.  She was more than an influencer.  She was a presence.  Her road trip, or van trip, as she called it, drew a vast, intense, and dedicated audience.  

So it was only natural that once her disappearance became known, her fans began combing for clues, proposing theories, and encouraging anyone with information to come forward.  Her fans went from following her trip to becoming amateur sleuths trying to solve a crime.  As social media go, one thing fed on another, and the whole became far and away more than the sum of its parts.  Social media became Gabby Petito's electronic milk carton.

Sure, that Gabby Petito was young and attractive didn't hurt in generating attention.  We prefer to raise the lace curtain and look in on attractive people, whatever their race.  We don't see ugly starlets performing in movies or television dramas.  The black cast of All American is composed of some extraordinarily attractive women.  Would you expect it to be otherwise?

Is there media bias in the coverage of missing women?  Researchers say there is.  And what is unnatural about that?  We identify with people who look like us, just as some middle-class black parents are hesitant to put their children in good schools that lack students who look like them.  According to identity politics, tribalism is a basic instinct.  Is white tribalism racist while black tribalism is a matter of social expectation and cohesion?

The media thrive on ratings, and news media are in many ways not at all different from clickbait on the internet.  Most Americans are white, so if tribalism is instinctual, then why wouldn't the media be interested in drawing the attention of the largest demographic?

But bias does not determine every case, for there are tens of thousands of missing, attractive, young white women who get no media attention, and conceivably, had Petito not become a social media superstar, she too might have become just another missing white woman.  And there is also the element of crime drama, with fiancé Brian Laundrie coming home to Florida with Gabby Petito's van and without her.  Then there are the actions of Laundrie's family concealing Gabby's disappearance.  These elements are the material for a television drama.  Probably, a year from now, it will surface on Law and Order: Special Victims Unit.

For anyone capable of getting over the hurdle that everything is defined by race, there most certainly are enough elements to suggest that far more than Gabby Petito's race and good looks were at work here.  That raises the question: what if Gabby Petito were black, had a half-billion followers on social media, and disappeared under the same circumstances?  Would the media have showcased the story?

It most certainly would have if it drew large ratings, for the media are about not race, but business.  Joy Reid understands that, which is why her race-baiting is simply another form of clickbait.

Abraham H. Miller is an emeritus professor of political science.

Image: Stocksnap.

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