Eugene Robinson in the Washington Post takes the media to task for obsessing over missing white women stories like Natalie Holloway.
How silly of me; of course no one is going to make it stop. Certainly not Fox News anchor Greta Van Susteren, who’s spent so much time in Aruba looking for blond, missing Natalee Holloway that she probably qualifies for a Dutch passport. Leaving no stone or sand dollar unturned, Van Susteren has ridden this sad little story to her best Nielsen ratings ever. Hey, who cares about Iraq? They’re draining the pond! They’re digging in the landfill!
At least Van Susteren is upfront about why she sticks with the story. “I’m always happy when the viewers are happy,” Van Susteren told the Associated Press. “I obviously don’t program for the people in the newsroom or my friends or the people I went to law school with. I program for the viewers.”
Meanwhile, the case of Latoyia Figueroa, a pregnant 24-year-old woman of color missing in Philadelphia, is being used as a kind of make-up call. You know what a make-up call is: When a referee in the NBA calls a foul on one team and then the replay shows it wasn’t really a foul at all, he quickly calls a cheap foul on the other team as a way to even the score.
In this case, the replay showed that the number of missing women of color who had received the full 24-7 Damsels treatment was precisely zero. So, nagged by a persistent blogger, the cable networks grudgingly devoted a couple of days to Figueroa. Then they dashed back to Aruba and breathlessly reported the latest “developments” in the Holloway case.
Never mind that there haven’t been any real developments. The same guy’s been in jail for weeks, and the crack Aruban authorities still can’t even say that a crime has been committed, much less by whom. People aren’t watching this story to follow an unfolding mystery, because it refuses to unfold. There must be another reason why producers and viewers love it so.