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Huntsman daughter parlays campaign into media gigs

Published May 22, 2012 10:06 am

Abby's dream job as a network media analyst is becoming a reality.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Washington • When she was 16, Abby Huntsman spent weekends hanging out at the CBS News Washington bureau, watching family friend John Roberts in his daily grind and feeling the itch to join the ranks of journalism.

A decade later, the daughter of ex-Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman has parlayed her experience on her dad's presidential campaign and life in a political family to a new role as a network analyst and commentator.

"This is the career path I've always wanted to be on," she said recently in her family's home in Washington. "Media has always been part of my life."

While her father goes on to chart his own post-campaign course, Abby Huntsman is appearing on morning television to chat about the White House chase she recently spent months involved in.

The East High School graduate — who also attended two other high schools and was home-schooled for a while — has plenty of experience in the news media, having interned with ABC4 in Salt Lake City as well as spending time as a booker at "Good Morning America" in New York and ABC News in Washington. Still, that doesn't make it easy when the camera points to her in the CNN studio for the show "Starting Point" with Soledad O'Brien.

"It's a challenging show," Huntsman says. "It goes anywhere from politics to Kim Kardashian. I have to read up on everything. You just don't want to look like a fool up there."

So far, so good.

"She's bright, worldly and brings a great perspective," says Shannon High, executive producer of the CNN morning show. "Her experiences growing up in a political family give her a unique voice and point of view."

It's a similar track that some other political family kids have taken, too: Jenna Bush Hager, daughter of ex-President George W. Bush, is now a correspondent for NBC's "Today" show; Chelsea Clinton, daughter of Bill and Hillary Clinton, too, has a gig as a correspondent for NBC's "The Rock"; and Meghan McCain, daughter of former presidential candidate John McCain, writes for the Daily Beast and appears occasionally on MSNBC.

Abby Huntsman, 26, also has a contributing gig, writing columns for the Huffington Post, where she's opined nearly a half-dozen times so far about the Republican Party (in one, urging GOP candidate and former Huntsman rival Mitt Romney to take some bold positions to gin up enthusiasm).

Huntsman — who married Jeff Livingston in the National Cathedral in August 2010 — says she's still trying to figure out which cable news network she'll eventually settle down with. She's spent several mornings on CNN, made some appearances on MSNBC and is in talks with a few others she's not naming.

"I'm in the process of finding the right family," she says of landing somewhere permanently.

Beyond her media gigs, Huntsman acts as her dad's spokeswoman, a role she also played with his failed presidential campaign during which she often booked television gigs. Her father once yearned to be a foreign correspondent for a news agency, she says, noting that's where she caught the journalism bug.

She says growing up in politics and working in the news media give her a good perspective of "both sides."

But she also says she understands that she's young and has a lot to learn.

"I have a lot of mistakes yet to make."

tburr@sltrib.com