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'Noisy Rally' By 'a Few Thousand' Matched by 'Powerful' AARP and AMA Endorsements

Despite the mass shooting at Fort Hood, the ABC, CBS and NBC newscasts Thursday night squeezed in full stories pegged to a "kill the bill" anti-Pelosi/ObamaCare rally outside the U.S. Capitol attended by "angry protesters" as all the stories also stressed how President Obama got a "boost" from "big," "powerful" "key" and "major" endorsements from the AARP and AMA.

NBC's Brian Williams contrasted "big endorsements by two influential groups" with "a big, noisy rally urging lawmakers to just say no," while reporter Kelly O'Donnell minimized the conservative event as "a few thousand protesters." ABC's Jonathan Karl, however, recognized how "the hastily-planned protest drew one of the largest crowds in memory for a congressional event. The crowd extends all the way up around to the House side of the building, across to the Senate side, literally surrounding the western front of the Capitol."

NBC's Kelly recounted how the House bill would "expand health coverage to 96 percent of Americans, and create government-backed insurance called a public option. Today that plan won a powerful endorsement. AARP, the lobby group for Americans over 50, signed on and showed off boxes of supportive petitions" and that was "followed by another boost, the doctors' lobby, the American Medical Association." ABC anchor Charles Gibson set up the World News story:

It has been a wild day in the battle over health care reform. In Washington, opponents of President Obama's reform plan held a raucous demonstration and then descended on Congress just as the President was making a surprise appearance to trumpet two major endorsements of his proposal.

Jonathan Karl:

The town hall fury of August has come to Capitol Hill....

The hastily-planned protest drew one of the largest crowds in memory for a congressional event. The crowd extends all the way up around to the House side of the building, across to the Senate side, literally surrounding the western front of the Capitol. While Republicans protested, President Obama touted two big endorsements of the health care bill, from the AARP and the American Medical Association....

Katie Couric introduced the CBS Evening News piece:

The fight over health care reform is turning into a fierce battle in Washington. Opponents of the House bill showed strength in numbers today, while supporters fired back touting two key endorsements.

Chip Reid:

Outside the Capitol today, thousands of angry protesters called on Congress to kill the House health care reform bill. Inside a House office building, anti-abortion protesters destroyed copies of the bill, which they say would allow for taxpayer-funded abortions, a contention Democratic leaders deny....

The White House is worried enough about the vote that the President made an unannounced appearance today to tout endorsements of the bill by the seniors' lobby AARP and by the AMA, the nation's largest organization of doctors...

The entire story on the Thursday, November 5 NBC Nightly News, transcript provided by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth:

BRIAN WILLIAMS: A crucial vote on health care reform is drawing closer tonight. Today you could see and feel the stakes being raised with some big endorsements by two influential groups, and on the other side, a big, noisy rally urging lawmakers to just say no. NBC's Kelly O'Donnell saw all of it today. She's with us tonight from Capitol Hill. Kelly, good evening.

KELLY O'DONNELL: Good evening, Brian. And it's because the House is prepared for an unusual weekend vote that this turned out to be a pivotal day for both sides in the health care debate. Democrats got big-name support, and conservative opponents were able to turn out a boisterous crowd here at the Capitol. Anger and action from a few thousand protesters today.

REP. TOM PRICE (R-GA): We are here today for a House call on Washington!

O'DONNELL: Furious with Democrats and President Obama over health care reform.

REP. PETER HOEKSTRA (R-MI): Madam Speaker, throw out this bill!

O'DONNELL: Encouraged by conservative organizers to take their outrage inside congressional office buildings. At least a dozen arrests were made. This was the scene outside Speaker Pelosi's office. The House bill would cost $1.2 trillion over 10 years, expand health coverage to 96 percent of Americans, and create government-backed insurance called a public option. Today that plan won a powerful endorsement. AARP, the lobby group for Americans over 50, signed on and showed off boxes of supportive petitions.

BARRY RAND, AARP: This bill includes critical priorities for seniors.

O'DONNELL: Followed by another boost, the doctors' lobby, the American Medical Association said, although it "is not the perfect bill," "it would make the system better." Armed with those long sought after endorsements, the President made a surprise visit to the White House briefing room.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I urge Congress to listen to AARP, listen to the AMA, and pass this reform for hundreds of millions of Americans who will benefit from it.

O'DONNELL: And the President just won't urge Congress, he's actually going to make an unusual visit here tomorrow if his schedule holds to see House Democrats and to meet with them, especially the three dozen or so moderate Democrats who have concerns about costs and specifics related to abortion funding and illegal immigrants that are in the House bill.

- Brent Baker is Vice President for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center