Elizabeth Smart defends role as ABC news contributor

ABC News contributor Elizabeth Smart says part of the reason she took a job with the network is because she credits media outlets with helping to save her life.

In an interview after meeting with lawmakers to push for reinstated funding for the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, Smart said when it comes to missing-persons cases, “I think media plays such a key role. I know in my case I might not be here today if the media hadn’t kept my story alive.”

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In 2002, when she was 14 years old, Smart was abducted from her Utah home and held for nine months by her kidnapper. Smart calls those months “the worst of my life.”

ABC confirmed in early July that it was hiring Smart, now 23 and a student at Brigham Young University, to work as a contributor to its various news programs. She made her on-air debut on “Good Morning America” two weeks ago. Smart told ITK “there were a number of many different options” — not just from ABC, but from several outlets.

Some critics blasted ABC News. A Salon.com headline stated, “Elizabeth Smart: ABC’s new victim correspondent,” while a writer for The Boston Globe declared, “Her name may be smart, but she is hardly an expert.”

Smart, who says she doesn’t consider herself a journalist, reveals that she “feels bad” for critics who feel she’s cashing in on her story.

“I’m sorry for them that they think that,” she said. “This is something I feel very passionate about. I know what I went through and there are stories just like mine that are happening all the time.” She indicates that she almost feels indebted to the media, saying, “I know so much was done for me, really so much that I could never repay back.”

Smart is unsure how long her TV career will last, saying, “I’m not sure where the path will take me, but I just know that I want to make a difference. So it could be TV, or it could be somewhere else.”