Before becoming senior correspondent for NBC News, Hager spent 32 years covering everything from Vietnam to J.F.K.Jr.'s missing aircraft. Vietnam was his first of many assignments, which came to include the now infamous Munich Olympics, Brezhnev's Moscow, the Iranian revolution, and Lockerbie.

Weaning on the Huntley-Brinkley Report, he taped and then re-typed their broadcasts in order to learn the structure of news scripts. He covers his self-invented beat of "planes, trains, and hurricanes", and appears on the NBC Nightly News more than any other reporter.

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