Abby Huntsman co-hosts the television show "The View," which for more than 20 years has been an outlet for women expressing strong, deeply held opinions, but she believes people need to listen to each other more.
Huntsman, who joined the ABC show in September after co-anchoring Fox and Friends Weekend, talked about the divisive times currently being experienced in the world during the opening keynote of the 2018 Business Insurance Women to Watch conference in New York on Friday.
During her time at Fox, she traveled across the United States, often visiting the poorest counties, and talking and listening to people to get a sense of why they voted the way they did and why they believed what they believed, she said.
"I would always leave there inspired by them," she said. "Whether they voted for Trump or hated Trump, I would try to understand where they were coming from, not judge them. I think today we are moving away from that ability to just listen to each other, to try to respect other people's opinions."
"Even on 'The View', people are set in their ways at the table, so my voice is not necessarily the most popular one," she added. "I don't always have the audience always cheering for me, but I try to remind them that there is a middle ground always and there's a way that we can work together and sit across the table and learn from each other."
Huntsman said her parents, including her father Jon Huntsman Jr., former governor of Utah and current US ambassador to Russia, taught her the importance of giving back and to "do what you love in life, find your passion, but make sure it's doing something that has impact in this world, make sure you're making other people's lives a little bit better." "You have to find that confidence in yourself to know you're going to fail a number of times, but it really does help you figure out who you are and who you want to be," she said.
Her father ran for president in 2012 as a moderate Republican, speaking in support of gay marriage and addressing climate change despite widespread criticism within his own party, she noted.
"He never wavered from what he believed in," he said. When she first started in the "incredibly competitive" media industry, the female journalists who had made it in the business weren't always willing to help their younger counterparts because they navigated a more difficult path.
"There wasn't always that sense with the older generation to reach out and help each other and how can I teach you what I learned and how can I make sure you don't got through some of the same hard things that we did," she said. "I think in a sense they felt like they went through that initiation so we needed to go through that initiation the same way that they did.
What I now sense is this generation we're in now, there's such a motivation to help each other because they know how hard it is and they realize when they help the next person, that's good for everybody." Huntsman said she has made a pact with her female friends in the industry to do everything they can to help the young women starting out in the media business.
"If somebody is going to come in behind me and I feel threatened by them, I always say, 'If they're going to fire me, then let them fire me'," she said. "I want to be there because I'm meant to be there, because they think I'm good enough to be there.
I don't want to intimidate someone and make their life harder because I'm worried about them. I've really seen a positive change." She started at Fox News six months before Roger Ailes, the former chairman and chief executive officer and person who hired her, resigned amid allegations of sexual misconduct.
"I thought the whole thing was going to blow up in smoke," she said. "I didn't know what I was getting myself into. I had no clue that these women had gone through all this. It was a really hard time. I'd pass other women in the hall that had been there a while and I could just see the sadness in their faces.
I knew they had been through a lot over the years. But I will say going through that was such a good learning experience for me and really exhilarating for the women who had been there." Rather than being angry and depressed about what they were all going through, the women decided to band together and "prove that we don't need someone like that for us to be good and that's what we did," she said.
The writer is a Library Strategist at Zepheira and a co-founder of The Library.Link Network
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