Soledad O'Brien says there's a reason it's so difficult for a lot of missing persons cases to make the national news ... she says the woman has to be pretty, and they better be white.
The veteran TV journalist joined us on "TMZ Live" and we asked her why mainstream media outlets tend to cover cases like Gabby Petito and Natalee Holloway while ignoring stories involving minorities.
Soledad's a bit of an expert on the topic, and not just because of her background in cable news ... she produced a new docuseries on HBO, "Black and Missing," examining media bias as it relates to missing persons.
The way Soledad explains it ... the Petito case, which made headlines right when the docuseries debuted, is a perfect example of what many call "Missing White Woman Syndrome."
Soledad says media tend to run with missing persons stories involving pretty, white women because that's what they think will resonate with the audience ... and she rattles off countless examples.
It's not just missing persons either ... Soledad tells us how she learned firsthand media outlets will give a lot of attention to victims of other crimes, as long as they've got 2 specific qualities.