Former First Daughter Joins "Today"

Bush daughter Jenna Hager becomes morning show reporter

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
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    Jenna Bush and the "Today" show are just smitten with each other.

    NEW YORK -- NBC's "Today" show has hired someone with White House experience as a new correspondent -- former first daughter Jenna Hager.

    The daughter of former President George W. Bush will contribute stories about once a month on issues like education to television's top-rated morning news show, said Jim Bell, its executive producer.

    Hager, a 27-year-old teacher in Baltimore, said she has always wanted to be a teacher and a writer and has already authored two books. But she was intrigued by the idea of getting into television when Bell contacted her.

    "It wasn't something I'd always dreamed to do," she said. "But I think one of the most important things in life is to be open-minded and to be open-minded for change."

    She'll essentially work two part-time jobs as a correspondent and in her school, where she will be a reading coordinator this year.

    Bell said he got the idea after seeing Hager in two "Today" appearances. She was on the program two years ago to promote her book about an HIV-infected single mother, "Ana's Story: A Journey of Hope," and it went so well that a short interview was stretched to almost a half hour. She and her mother, Laura Bush, also co-hosted an hour of "Today" around the time their picture book was released.

    She "just sort of popped to us as a natural presence, comfortable" on the air, Bell said. Hager will work out of NBC's Washington bureau.

    "I think she can handle it," Bell said. "I think she knows something about pressure and being under some scrutiny. When she came here for a handful of appearances, she knocked it out of the park."

    He expects her first story, most likely concerning education, to be on sometime next month.

    A first television job on "Today" is, in her father's world, sort of like a run for president as a first attempt at elective office. Hager said that people on the show "have always made me, whenever I've been there, feel very comfortable."

    Bell said Hager won't be covering politics. He said he didn't consider the job as a down payment for a future interview with her father, who has been living quietly in Texas since leaving office earlier this year. Attacks on NBC News by conservatives for the liberal bent of MSNBC also had nothing to do with it, he said.

    "I hope to focus on what I'm passionate about because I think I'd do them best job on them --education, urban education, women and children's issues and literacy," Hager said.

    She doesn't plan to talk about her experiences as the daughter of a president.

    "I don't think it's that interesting," she said. "I'm pretty normal."

    Jenna Hager married Henry Hager in May 2008 at her family's ranch in Texas.