During her 10-year tenure as the resident conservative voice on ABC’s daytime talk show “The View,” Elisabeth Hasselbeck went from being a former shoe industry industrial designer and “Survivor” contestant to a confident TV professional who learned how to stand up for herself in the occasional pointed debates that broke out among the all-female panelists.
On Sept. 16, Hasselbeck was still perched on a couch on a weekday, but instead of the one-hour chat fest of “The View,” she was tackling three hours a day as a co-host of Fox News Channel’s morning show, “Fox and Friends,” with show veterans Steve Doocy and Brian Kilmeade.
Things are different when you trade in estrogen for testosterone.
“’They’re like siblings,” says Hasselbeck of her companions on the show’s curvy white couch. “I keep calling them my brothers, because they feel like that. Certainly, they’re unique.”
It’s not an entirely new situation for Hasselbeck, as she’s married to former NFL quarterback (and her college beau) Tim Hasselbeck, and two of their three children are boys. As it turned out, a familiarity with rough-and-tumble was handy during her first week.
During that week, viewers saw her getting surprise visits from Donald Trump and her former “View” co-host Sherri Shepherd — a day that also saw a celebratory confection from the “Cake Boss” (who also made a gluten-free cupcake for Hasselbeck, who has celiac disease), hanging with the Robertsons of A&E Network’s “Duck Dynasty,” competing with Kilmeade in a joust and a foot race inside giant bubbles, and crawling through mud on an obstacle course.
“Nothing bonds you like that,” she says. “We do love dirt and mud.”
Also, the tragic mass shooting at the Washington Navy Yard happened on the Monday Hasselbeck launched on “Fox and Friends,” near the end of the show.
“Day 2 was, emergency brake is off,” says Hasselbeck, talking on Thursday of her first week. “We’ve been following that story closely. The wonderful thing about Fox News is that the contributors we have and the expertise — in terms of generals and colonels, politicians, willing to come in and give insight to our viewers — is unmatched when it comes to something like that.”
Hasselbeck does miss her former couch companions while remembering the lessons she learned.
“Certainly I miss the genius of Whoopi Goldberg,” she says, “the light Sherri Shepherd would bring, the challenge that Joy Behar would, and the expertise and example, professionally, that Barbara (Walters) would offer.
“There’s a lot that I probably don’t even realize I’m bringing with me. I don’t know if you’d call it baggage; I think it’s a nice suitcase of experience there that I can’t help but believe will affect me personally and professionally.”
She’s doesn’t miss winding up in heated conversations with strong differing opinions.
“For me,” Hasselbeck says, “being able to just comment on the news is very different from having an opinion piece every single day. I like the fact that opinion matters less, just commentary, conversation and a ton of information. I’d rather the information be front and center.
“It’s more comfortable for me, to be honest, in that respect.”
With the inside knowledge gained as the wife of an NFL player-turned-ESPN commentator, Hasselbeck would also like to get some more past and present NFL players on “Fox and Friends.”
“I hope so,” she says. “One of the most interesting things about the time — and it was almost a decade that Tim played in the NFL; now he’s talking about it as a profession — is there are so many unique stories behind the jerseys.
“I want them to sit on the curvy couch, give them a rest, get them hydrated, iced and make them talk.”
Hasselbeck also makes an interesting point about objectification, a phenomenon that doesn’t just happen to women.
“Women talk about being objectified,” she says. “Look, you become a player in the NFL — they’re being traded in fantasy leagues. They are made into an object. Maybe they don’t mind, but the stories behind them and their journeys are so fascinating. And they’ve got a lot of personality.”
Mostly through her first week, Hasselbeck’s biggest challenge may be adjusting to the early bedtime that comes with doing morning television.
“Getting to sleep on time is a big problem for me right now,” she says. “Getting to work on time is not a problem; it’s the afternoons that I have to navigate. ... Do I nap? Do I not?”
Then there’s the difficulty of balancing her new schedule with being a mother of three.
Hasselbeck says, “We want our kids to grow up to be responsible and healthy, God willing.”
Sleep deprivation can interfere, though, with homework help.
“You try doing some elementary-school math,” Hasselbeck says, “after being up for a long time.”