When word came last night that Elisabeth Hasselbeck, Survivor contestant turned conservative lightning rod on The View, will be leaving that frequently nightmarish chat show this week to start a gig at Fox's Fox & Friends, it initially seemed perfect. Elisabeth Hasselbeck, Sarah Palin booster and spouter of various Karl Rove-approved talking points, should be a natural fit for Fox News, a network that gives its many loyal viewers exactly what they want exactly how they want it. And in some ways she is that natural fit — she exists in the awkward limbo between intellect and intuition, a place Fox loves to dwell in. And, let's be honest, her sharp-eyed blondeness is the preferred look for the network's female anchors. But if you think about it a little more, I'm just not sure she's going to do all that well over there.
One of the strange, uncomfortable, and oddly wonderful surprises of The View over the years is how gnarly and raw its political discussions can get. On many occasions the genial, telegenic patter has quickly devolved into sincere, heated argument, usually involving Hasselbeck in some way. Of course there was the famous Rosie vs. Elisabeth showdown over the Iraq War, the one that eventually led to Rosie leaving the show. But there have been other dust-ups (Entertainment Weekly has a handy highlights list) that have made the show, on occasion, something lively and, in the oddest of possible ways, almost scary. The constant tension in the air that something might erupt has imbued the show with an ominousness that gives an otherwise bland chatfest an importanta something extra; that tingle of suspense is why it's worth watching. And Elisabeth Hasselbeck, love her or hate her, is largely responsible for that.