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During her three years at Fox News, Abby Huntsman says the network never told her what to say. “I never felt restrained,” she said. “I never felt like I couldn’t speak my mind.”
On Aug. 12, she co-hosted her last episode of Fox & Friends Weekend and packed up for a new gig that made her a similar promise and pledge.
Huntsman co-hosted her first episode of ABC’s The View on Sept. 4 and says she feels free to share her thoughts without being boxed into one ideological corner or another. “I feel really free in that I go in every morning and no one on that show tells me what to say, no one tells me what to think,” she tells The Hollywood Reporter. “I feel so lucky to have a job where I don’t feel limited.”
She’s transitioned from reporter to opinion host, but says, “There’s no such thing today as someone being on TV with zero opinion. … People don’t want to watch someone that literally doesn’t have a thought about anything. I think that the industry is changing.”
Huntsman, 32, is friendly, charismatic and more candid than most television presenters in person. Her career has taken her across the ideological spectrum, with previous stops at HuffPost and MSNBC before landing at Fox News.
Like her co-host and good friend Meghan McCain, Huntsman says she’s able to channel the views of Trump supporters on air without reflexively defending them or the president they voted for.
“These are great people,” she says of Trump voters. “They’re people like my grandparents. And, I think that voice does need to be heard. It’s an important one.”
That doesn’t mean she sees herself as a “Trump person,” though. “I was critical of him a lot on Fox, and I got hit by our viewers for it. And that’s OK,” she says. (In July, she came out against the president’s cozy press conference with Vladimir Putin, tweeting: “‘No negotiation is worth throwing your own people and country under the bus.”)
Asked if it was hard for her to leave the cable network, Huntsman says, “I made so many good friends there. And, for all that it’s been through over the past few years, I would say it was a wonderful place to work. And there are so many great women there. And no one ever told that story. No one ever told the story about all the wonderful women that stayed, that were strong, and that kept it going, and kept it to where it is today. We always focus on the negatives and what the controversy is.”
She continued: “It was hard because I loved the job I did and I loved the people I did it with. I left because ABC was where I started, and it was always my dream to get back there. And The View was a show I watched since it began.” (Huntsman defended her former employer on Friday’s show after co-host Joy Behar called the network a “sleaze factory.”)
ABC’s pitch to her was simple, she says: “‘Come be yourself. We think you’d be great on the show.’ I feel lucky in that sense.”
On The View, Huntsman says she’s already been able to have nuanced, healthy discussions about newsmakers like Colin Kaepernick and the police brutality protests without devolving into siloed shouting matches. “You don’t see that on cable news very much,” she says. “Because it is that, ‘Here’s my talking point. Here’s your talking point. Let’s not try to understand each other. Let’s just double-down on where we are.’ And, people live in their cul-de-sacs.”
She also welcomes the format of The View, which is one hour per day, compared with Fox & Friends Weekend, a four-hour-long show that she thinks was a “really great training ground” for her new role. “If you can master a four-hour morning television show, you can really do anything on television,” she says.
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