How This Fox News Host Wants To Change How We Talk About Politics

Abby Huntsman is no stranger to the rough and tumble of national politics.

When her dad, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, ran for president in 2012, Huntsman and two of her sisters generated major buzz and headlines by sharing their perspective on the trail on social media.

In the years since, the 30-year-old journalist has dished out political analysis and reporting of her own online and on cable networks, most recently as a correspondent and occasional co-host on Fox News Channel.

Now, fresh off spending 2016 covering what she calls "the most unpredictable, craziest campaign," ever, Huntsman is getting a new platform to talk all things politics — and more: She was recently named a permanent co-host of Fox & Friends Weekend, which airs 6 to 10 a.m. on Fox News Channel.

Given her unique experience on both sides of campaign coverage, she hopes to use her new position to bring civility — and compassion — to our nation's often rancorous political discourse.

"It's really easy being a pundit today to put down other people… Now that I'm in this role, I always think about the emotions behind the scenes," she said.

Huntsman spoke to Refinery29 by phone about the new job, the new administration, and her thoughts on what the incoming first daughter should do.
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Congratulations on the new role! The early weekend wake-up call aside, you must be excited.
"You know what’s funny is that since I’ve been doing the 5 a.m. show for the past eight months, I’m used to getting up at 2:30 in the morning. Now getting up for the 6 a.m. show is a luxury!"

Why is it important for millennial women to have a platform like yours?
"We are a generation that is very passionate about the future of this country and I think we, more than anything, are fighting for women, too. And we’re seeing more and more women get opportunities and change the landscape as we know it.

"What’s great about my position is, they said from day one, we just want you to be Abby up there. When I was first starting to do the weekend, I wasn’t sure if I was going to get the role. There are the nerves of, Am I going to get this, who am I competing with? And the best advice out there was just be yourself, just let the audience get to know you."

[Ivanka Trump] is very smart, she is very talented, and most importantly, she’s got [President-elect Trump's] best interests at heart.

Abby Huntsman
It's been a challenging year for Fox News, with sexual harassment allegations involving talent and female anchors. Has that affected your work experience or factored into your decisions at all?
"I came a year ago, which was a very interesting time to come into Fox. I will say there are some incredible women who work here, and for any of them that have had that experience, I hope they get the help to move on from that, because that’s a terrible thing for anyone to go through. But I also feel lucky to have come in when I did, because I’m really part of, I feel, the next generation of Fox. And they’ve made it clear that they’re really investing in young women to be a part of the future of the network. My experiences have only been positive ones."

I wanted to get your thoughts on Trump’s Cabinet picks so far, on how the administration is coming together.
"I think now is the time for people to take a step back and see what he can do. Looking at how wrong so many people got the actual election, I think that should be a wake-up call to everyone to say, 'Let’s just see how he handles this, what he can do.' What we’ve seen in the transition so far is people coming into Trump Tower [from] all walks of life, men, women, Republican, Democrat, you name it…

Kanye West!
"Kanye West of all people! The one thing you can say about Trump is he does have relations with people. That’s what he campaigned on, I’m going to work with people to get something done. Let’s see if he can do that on the national political stage."

When it comes to the people he’s already appointed, do you think they’re strong picks?

"There have been mixed reviews about too many generals on this list. I come from a military family, I’ve got two brothers in the Navy, so I had the opposite reaction… The other picks, I think they all have strong backgrounds. I think you’re going to have to see what they do once they get in there. He’s obviously making choices based on who he thinks is loyal to him, but also based on his own interactions. I think he’s had meetings thinking it’s going to go one way and then after the meeting ends, he changes his mind. That’s what's so interesting about him: You can’t predict what’s going to happen."
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I don’t like it when people are judged in a certain way, or put in a bucket as Democrat or Republican.

There is a lot of talk about Ivanka Trump and what her role in the administration could or should be…
"She’s a great example of a strong woman who has built her career in her own right. What I can tell you from my own experience in this is, the only people you can truly trust in a political campaign or in political office are your own family. There’s a reason he’s keeping some of the family members as close to him as he is. You need someone to turn to who will tell you the truth, who can kind of be the eyes and ears around you to see if something’s off, if someone is throwing you under the bus, or not being honest. I think it’s actually smart for him to keep her close. She is very smart, she is very talented, and most importantly, she’s got his best interests at heart."

You mentioned before people getting this election wrong. What do you think people on the left or the media or the public as a whole gets wrong about young conservative women?

"It’s the same thing people get wrong about the term feminist. The assumption is you can only be a feminist if you are a ranking Liberal or a Democrat. If you look at the definition of feminism, by the way, it’s just equality for women. I do think that conservative women often get misunderstood [when] you put them all in one bucket. They all are individuals and they have their own thoughts about things. I don’t like it when people are judged in a certain way, or put in a bucket as Democrat or Republican. There’s so much more to that person."
Do you have a dream interview or segment you want to tackle?
"I’m so lucky to interview so many great people, but I always love when I get to interview my dad, because he’s the one I look up to most. That’s always something that’s so special."

That must be hard, though!
"It is. You also want to play the interviewer role and ask tough questions, but we’ve figured out a good way it works.

"But what I loved about television from an early age was being able to tell people’s stories and helping people relate on some level. The most memorable and meaningful interview for me is when I go and interview a family that is struggling in some way, and you tell their story and you hear from so many other people out there that are going through the exact same thing and it made their day just to see that. When you tell a heartwarming story, those are the ones that really get me."

One last fun question: What’s your New Year’s resolution?
"I think not being so hard on myself. I think we all have that in us to be our worst critics. Especially now that I’m starting this new role, it’s so hard to do everything…I’d love to take a step back and just be happy with doing my best, even if it’s not everything I want it to be."

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
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