Frank Somerville Of Ktvu Suspended For Gabby Petito Comments He Told Blogger Richard Lieberman

Frank Somerville Suspended By KTVU Update – Oakland’s Dr. Elnora T. Webb, PhD Op Ed

KTVU Treatment of Frank Somerville Speaks Volumes about What’s Considered Newsworthy
By Elnora T. Webb, PhD


Elnora Tena Webb Phd
Elnora Tena  Webb  PhD

A dear loved one just shared distressing news, Frank Somerville, has been suspended “pending further review” by Fox-owned KTVU. Frank Somerville, a long-standing journalist who began his work with KTVU in 1991, began co-anchoring the evening news in 2008. Up to now, hundreds of thousands of us have tuned in to KTVU in order to experience the authentic clarity of facts and insights provided by Mr. Somerville. Frank, as he is called by many of us, is not only a remarkable fixture on KTVU, he has been unwavering in his support of our great and diverse community across and beyond the Bay Area.

We are disheartened to experience his absence. More importantly, we are deeply troubled to
learn that he has been removed – after 30 years of service -, and just shy of his retirement due
to a “newsroom spat” because he wanted to convey contextual facts.

The formal and informal press state that his removal is based on his desire to illuminate the
rampant domestic violence and its disproportionate impact on women of color and Indigenous
People, which goes “largely ignored” by the press.

Why is what Frank wanted to share controversial? For a growing number of us across these united states, our primary purpose in accessing the “news” is to secure facts, including and especially contextual details. Increasingly, we seek INTEGRITY and FAITH in the accuracy, transparency, and richness of the information disseminated. However, too frequently, what we receive are watered down sound bites that treat viewers as though we have limited (or no) critical thinking capacity and limited judgment, incapable of discerning what is accurate from what is purely for entertainment – even when the so-called temporary amusement is horrific like the murdering of women, men, and children.

What’s the issue? A predisposition to “dumb down” rather than “elevate” What did the late Carl Sagan write in his 1995 published The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark?

“The dumbing down of American is most evident in the slow decay of substantive content in the enormously influential media, the 30 second sound bites (now down to 10 seconds or less), lowest common denominator programming, credulous presentations on pseudoscience and superstition, but especially a kind of celebration of ignorance”


Challenging the status quo are other remarkable members of the media. These professionals are pulling back the curtain, educating people on former beliefs that were held to be true. Now, they, too, are painting a more complex and complete picture. In fact, too many professionals such as the police had been taught disparaging ways to objectify others i.e., prostitution is a victimless crime. Now, this and so many other scripts are being challenged and replaced to reveal the importance of social justice.

What is the solution?

Short-term – return Frank to his job without any ramifications due to his historical contributions Long-term – be innovative and invest in a strategic rethinking of the nature, content, and delivery of news that honors humanity and our capacity to exercise discernment and so much more.

How do we get to the long-term solution? To be determined based in part on:

  • Establishing clear shared values and a vision for the news i.e., to inform about the human
    conditions and elevate humanity
  • Leveraging experts among journalists, futurists with humanities backgrounds, social science
    researchers, and professionals from diverse industries with success leading innovations that
    elevate conditions for large groups of individuals
  • Recognizing that our lives are very complicated and becoming much more so – thus,
    education via the news is essential
  • Honoring the enormous capacity of all people, independent of their current use of mental
    or emotional faculties – remember folks rise to the level of expectations
  • Always remembering, as humans we have evolved and will evolve in ways that may be
    difficult to imagine at this time – that is unless we do imagine
  • Guarding against the status quo or risk the continued loss of your audience and helping to
    ratchet up a temporary segment of our population that seems happy with the media game
    that is until they, too, disengage

Folks are awake – last year in over 1,000 cities, more than 45 million Americans were joined by countless millions of others across the planet in protest to injustices as the video of the killing of George Floyd illuminated – FINALLY – to so many the stark reality that too many of us deal with daily – that there are two Americas within the U.S. The only concern I had, expressed, and committed my life to address is what is the vision we seek to render ubiquitous so that these and other heinous actions are eliminated at best (and addressed systematically with real justice and equitably at least).

In speaking with another before completing this draft, she informed me of a show, Queen Sugar, where a lack of knowledge, understanding, anger, hurt, and fear led to actions, transactions, and ignorance that prolonged those harmful dispositions. It was not until honest and direct communications began did the parties to these feelings begin to understand why and how the other – hurt, engaged in actions that deepened the hurt and solidified the distrust and anger. The point here is that we don’t know what we don’t know, that is until we do know. While the portion of the story reflected here is between two women who had been childhood friends, the nature of our media engages in ways that perpetuate hurt, solidify distrust, and cause anger independent of its intent.

The thing we know about domestic violence and human trafficking is that the historical lens was replete with biases, assumed the individuals being violated were guilty parties or worse off, deserved the violations. How do we bring light to facts within the broader context in order to inform society more fully? How do we do so to help society advance to a healthier paradigm (towards worthy ideals)? Humbly, I argue that the facts are not so without context. Related, “impartial” journalism has been taken to mean negating the contextual facts in favor of what will sell.

BTW: the dear loved one to whom I referenced earlier is a woman, Chinese, aged 73. I am a woman, Black Native Latina, soon to be 63.


ZENNIE62MEDIA, INC. note: Oakland’s Dr. Webb sent this opinion editorial for publication.  Anyone who has a text or video view on a subject of public interest can send it to

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