Her television career started as a contestant on “Survivor: Australian Outback,” but Elisabeth Hasselbeck has demonstrated she is no flash in the pan. The 37-year-old was a co-host for 10 years on ABC’s “The View.” Recently, she celebrated her first anniversary on the couch at Fox News’ morning show “Fox & Friends.” An athlete in college, she married her college sweetheart, former NFL quarterback Tim Hasselbeck. The couple have three children.
Do you miss the debates on “The View”?
We have such lively, thorough and extensive opportunity for debates on “Fox & Friends” that until you just asked me that question, it didn’t even pop into my mind. I feel quite fulfilled at Fox, and without a doubt the participants in the debates are so qualified in their areas of expertise, so the extraction of information is more than fulfilling.
It had to feel like an episode of “Survivor” sometimes on “The View” vs. “Fox & Friends.”
Every day has its challenges and rewards. I think the more of a wise risk you are willing to take — by that I mean, from past experience in the workplace, expressing opinion based on a combination of gut instinct, research and a nudge you may feel to just get your thoughts out — that there are opportunities. I feel blessed with having had really great employment and searching really hard for work that is as fulfilling and challenging.
Did your parents nurture your competitive nature, or was it something you developed on your own?
I hear “competitive” a lot, and it can be a word that is given a negative connotation or positive, depending on who you are speaking about or what the subject matter might be. I think competition is a good thing. It’s a good thing in education, and it’s a good thing in business because ultimately the best arises from it. Good competition you will see on a football field.
Ultimately, iron will sharpen iron. My parents taught us how to work hard. We have all worked. I couldn’t wait to mow a lawn or turn 16 to get official working documents. I thought that was something to be proud of, and I still do. Being able to contribute to a great cause is an added bonus.
You were a fine arts major at Boston College. Do you use that at home, or do you see yourself going back to art at some point?
It’s funny. I started as double major in biology and studio art under the pre-med department. I loved biology. I actually thought I was going to take that all the way. I wanted to do reconstructive plastic surgery.
You know, my path changed. I still love science. I mean, I get blood work from all of our doctor’s appointments, and I will really evaluate it based on percentages. I love the formation of proteins. I’m a bio-nerd. I am proud of that. I like healing, and I want to make things better. I’m a fixer, and by nature that could have been a profession I would have found great joy in, but it just didn’t go that way.
I loved design as well. My father is an architect. I think I inherited his hand and his eye. He had me by his side when I was little, and I would draw on the walls of his office. What I think is most relevant now whether you are graduating college, coming out of a summer of joblessness as a high school student who wanted a job and there wasn’t one available, or you are 57 and have a kid in college and one in high school and your boss just laid you off, there is a call for a resiliency in terms of a career.
Is being on camera addictive for you?
No, that is the most challenging part of my day. Oddly enough, what gets me through is I think of my sister-in-law and I think of my very best friend when I look into the camera. In order to make myself more comfortable, I convince myself I am only telling them (laughs). What’s not hard for me is just being with great people.
But it is uncomfortable for me being on television. I actually get uncomfortable when my kids come home and say, “so and so said you are on TV” or “I saw you on TV.” It is still a moment that will make me want to go for a second round of deodorant (laughs). I’m an artist at heart. I’m most comfortable probably designing a set, but I like information and I like communicating. ... That is what gets me through.
How much prep do you do for the show?
We have as many stories as you can imagine that break overnight. Our job at “Fox & Friends” is to wake everybody up and tell them what’s going on.
What was the adjustment like for you and your family once you became famous?
It is certainly not how I define myself. It is actually my least favorite word because I don’t think it expresses purpose. It doesn’t tell you anything about the person. I think they have adjusted with every step of my life. The second half of this game so far has been a little odd for them at times (laughs). Probably stressful when critique falls into the equation.
Ultimately, I have an audience of one. At night when I put my head down and say my prayers, the judgment is only there. I have to remind myself of it. I am never going to please (every)body. My parents have told me that from day one. I am only human. I am going to let people down, and that is the hardest for me to know. My goal is to not let anybody down, to do the best I can and work as hard as I can, and be as loving and forgiving as I can.
At the end of the day it’s “I hope I didn’t let you down, God. I just want to honor you.” I can’t let the judgment of millions define who I am. I am already defined, thankfully.
My last question was: How do you keep the criticism from getting to you? You just answered it.
That is not to say I don’t have those days. A good friend will give me a swift kick in the rear and remind me of that when I need it. I have a team of good family and friends to do that for me. So I just try. You know we are all learning. There are much more difficult things to be doing, so this is a privilege, and I work for the greatest boss on the planet, Roger Ailes.