The Deck Was Stacked Against Her: A Defense of Mimi Gurbst

To the editors of The New York Observer,

I am writing in defense of Mimi Gurbst because I can no longer countenance the abuse of anonymity that has allowed others to cowardly malign her in perpetuity on the Internet. Like Mimi Gurbst, I worked at ABC for nearly thirty years. I no longer work there and, like Mimi Gurbst, I chose to leave of my own accord. When I arrived at ABC in 1982 I was a lowly freelance researcher at a fledgling news show called Nightline. Mimi and I were not close then but she was a well respected assignment editor on the ABC News assignment desk. Over the years our paths would occasionally cross but we were not close friends and I watched her garner professional accomplishments and raise a family from afar. Her ability to juggle both impressed me and inspired me to attempt to do the same. Unlike Mimi and, I can only assume, many of her anonymous detractors, I have worked at places other then ABC News – specifically ABC’s Daytime division and a magazine and book publisher not affiliated with ABC or it’s parent company, Disney. These experiences have given me a perspective that many of her critics seem to lack: all companies and the divisions within them are plagued by politics, people who feel they’ve been passed over, and the intricacies of human nature that some choose to interpret as dysfunction, favoritism, and discord. Let me say this: ABC News is not unique, in fact, it was a better place to work then many others. Mimi Gurbst navigated the shark infested waters there better then most – clearly she did her job well since ABC was either number one or a strong number two in the network news race during her tenure there. Since the attacks on her have been so pointedly personal let me also say that she is a beloved wife and mother to two kind and successful children and it is with her family in mind that I tell you she was a role model to many working women seeking to raise families while pursuing a highly competitive career they loved, a career that demands long hours, travel, and sacrifice. Mimi possesses an excellent editorial sense and was often representative of the core group of television viewers – women 25 to 54 – that make up the lion’s share of the audience of most shows on network television, a group that is still woefully underrepresented in the upper echelons of management. It is difficult to be a woman in corporate America. The deck was stacked against Mimi and her like from the beginning. She has chosen to leave at a time of life when many women are forced from their jobs – she was not. Once again, Mimi is a role model and inspiration in choosing to reinvent herself by returning to school, forging a new career, and doing something positive. Let’s applaud her decision and hope that others are able to embrace change as positively instead of venting their frustrations at the demise of our industry by attacking others.

 

Jessica Stedman Guff

Former Executive Producer, ABC News