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Elisabeth Hasselbeck gives 'View' co-hosts a sincere farewell

Elisabeth Hasselbeck at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in Manhattan.

Elisabeth Hasselbeck at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in Manhattan. (Feb. 16, 2011) Credit: Getty Images

Elisabeth Hasselbeck bowed out from "The View" Wednesday, leaving behind 10 years of talk, argument, interviews, passion and of course, right-wing vibes, which she'll take to "Fox & Friends," where she becomes co-host in September.

Above all, Wednesday's abrupt farewell (announced only Tuesday night) seemed unexpectedly genuine and emotional -- a rarity for TV separations of these sorts, and especially so for this fractious crew.

To Barbara Walters: "I feel more than prepared at this point because of all you've given me," adding "You are the best there is."

To Joy Behar: "I love you. I truly do."

To Whoopi Goldberg: "You are even more loving than you are talented. You are walking unconditional love."

And finally, to Sherri Sheperd, who wasn't even there: "You are my sister in Christ, my friend for life . . . "

So what was Hasselbeck's legacy on the show? She was a vital "View" ingredient who helped define it, shape it, give it some punch, even the occasional emotional wallop. And she was a bit of a lightning rod, too.

Her style was never to back down, but to move sideways -- usually by taking a position that she was not about to apologize for, but was not about to go down in flames for either. (Her style occasionally grated on her conservative choir in the audience, some of whom labeled her "RINO," or Republican In Name Only. Hasselbeck labeled herself "independent").

She produced heat -- famously in an argument with former co-host Rosie O'Donnell over U.S. troops in Iraq. But as house conservative, she was for many "View"-ers one of the rare conservatives in the great mass of TV talk, with the obvious exception of Fox News, where she'll fit right in.

"The View" needed her. Maybe that's why Wednesday's farewell seemed so genuine. It was.

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