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NBC Highlights Sniping at Boehner Debt Plan, No Criticism of Dems

On Wednesday's NBC Nightly News, Capitol Hill correspondent Kelly O'Donnell declared the delayed vote on House Speaker John Boehner's debt ceiling plan "took precious little time," and touted how "Democrats filled the time with sharp words." A sound bite was featured from Tennessee Congressman Steve Cohen: "I've had kidney stones that are easier to pass than this."

O'Donnell focused particularly on Democrats in Congress whining about a movie clip shown in a private House GOP meeting: "House Republicans fired up their members to stick together at a meeting last night. And even played a movie clip, a violent scene from the Ben Affleck film 'The Town.'" She added: "...that got bad reviews from Democrats today."

A sound bite followed of New York Senator Chuck Schumer fretting over the scene in question: "In the scene they chose to inspire their house freshmen, one of the crooks gives a pep talk to the other, right before they both put on hockey masks, bludgeon two men with sticks, and shoot a man in the leg."

During the Political Grapevine segment on Wednesday's Special Report on Fox News, anchor Bret Baier noted: "Assistant Minority Leader James Clyburn noted Democrats have used films in the past to fire up members. He says, years ago the bloody historical drama 'Braveheart' was played. Clyburn says it was meant to illustrate teamwork and unity not – quote – 'going out and hurting anybody.'" O'Donnell failed to offer any such context.

O'Donnell continued to promote Democratic criticism on Thursday's Today, declaring: "The politics of chronic gridlock hurts....And the prognosis from Democrats is dire." A clip played of Schumer asserting: "The Speaker's plan is on life support and it's time for him to pull the plug." O'Donnell explained that, "More than 50 [Democrats] just signed a letter saying they would block his plan because it would, 'Force us once again to face the threat of default in five or six short months.' Majority Leader Harry Reid wants to kill the Boehner bill and replace it with his own."

On the supposed movie clip controversy, O'Donnell again hyped: "If the facts weren't hard enough, House Republicans threw in some fiction. Playing this film clip from Ben Affleck's bank robber movie 'The Town' at a private meeting to fire up their members....Then upset Democrats jumped at the chance to show it again."

A sound bite was played of Florida Congresswoman and Democratic National Committee Chairman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz: "This is a political fight, one in which they are more interested in scoring points and hurting Democrats and the President than they are in protecting the country from an economic catastrophe."

O'Donnell concluded her Today report by observing: "If the House cannot get this [the Boehner plan] through, than we are back to the situation of can Harry Reid's plan somehow come to save the day, if you will." She ignored the fact that the Reid plan had no better chance of passing.

Here is a full transcript of O'Donnell's Nightly News report:

7:03PM ET

BRIAN WILLIAMS: The question is, where does this standoff stand tonight? Since we're here on her beat, NBC's Kelly O'Donnell's been with us covering this all day long and is here with an update. Kelly.

KELLY O'DONNELL: Well, Brian, there is yet another twist late tonight. Republican aides tell me they fixed a mistake, they sent Speaker Boehner's plan to raise the debt limit and reduce spending back to the drawing board. They made changes and then returned it to the nonpartisan number crunchers who gave it a score. The official number now is $917 billion in cuts over 10 years. That's an improvement for Republicans. But the glitch took precious little time. A political rain delay on Capitol Hill. The House vote postponed on Speaker Boehner's plan.

STEVE COHEN [REP. D-TN]: I've had kidney stones that are easier to pass than this.

O'DONNELL: And Democrats filled the time with sharp words.

CHUCK SCHUMER [SEN. D-NY]: The Speaker's plan is on life support and it's time for him to pull the plug.

O'DONNELL: Trying to save it, House Republicans fired up their members to stick together at a meeting last night. And even played a movie clip, a violent scene from the Ben Affleck film 'The Town.'

BEN AFFLECK: And we're going to hurt some people.

O'DONNELL: And that got bad reviews from Democrats today.

CHUCK SCHUMER: In the scene they chose to inspire their house freshmen, one of the crooks gives a pep talk to the other, right before they both put on hockey masks, bludgeon two men with sticks, and shoot a man in the leg.

O'DONNELL: Back in real life, Boehner is up against conservative opposition, demanding deeper cuts at this Tea Party rally today.

RAND PAUL [SEN. R-KY]: We have the Boehner proposal on the table. It will cut next year $1 billion.

O'DONNELL: But Boehner and his debt limit plan are gaining support too.

MITCH MCCONNELL: I'd like to reiterate my very strong support for Speaker Boehner, the House Republican leadership, and this plan to prevent default and reduce Washington's spending.

O'DONNELL: GOP aides say the get-in-line message delivered to members and the retooling of the bill for more spending cuts appears to be winning over some needed votes.

ERIC CANTOR [REP. R-VA]: The members understand this puts a check on Obama. It doesn't allow him the blank check that the Reid bill would allow.

MIKE PENCE [REP. R-IN]: I rise to urge all of my colleagues to keep an open mind on the Boehner plan.

O'DONNELL: And after all the talk, what this next hurdle is about is counting votes. And Brian, so far publicly, Republicans don't think they have enough of their members committed to actually pass this. And if that doesn't happen, then we're sort of back to square one with Harry Reid hoping to come up with some alternative. But it's uncertain.

WILLIAMS: Exactly what we picked up today. Kelly O'Donnell, who of course covers the Hill for us here every day, starting us off tonight. Kelly, thanks.

Here is a full transcript of O'Donnell's Today report:

7:02AM SEGMENT

LAUER: Let's begin on a Thursday morning with the time ticking away to reach a deal on raising the debt ceiling. NBC's Kelly O'Donnell is our Capitol Hill correspondent. Kelly, good morning to you.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: 5 Days and Counting; Can Boehner Get Debt Deal Done in Congress?]

KELLY O'DONNELL: Good morning, Matt. Well, House Speaker John Boehner says this is a test of his leadership. And we know that he delivered a pretty blunt message to his own Republican members to get in line. Aides tell me they believe they've earned a bit more credibility, that was their word, with some of their most conservative members when they retooled their proposal to raise the debt limit and cut spending by going deeper with the cuts. And now, after so much talk, that vote comes today. The politics of chronic gridlock hurts.

STEVE COHEN [REP. D-TN]: I've had kidney stones that are easier to pass than this.

O'DONNELL: And the prognosis from Democrats is dire.

CHUCK SCHUMER: The Speaker's plan is on life support and it's time for him to pull the plug.

O'DONNELL: But House Speaker John Boehner claims his debt limit plan has been revived after a big last-minute fix. Republicans reworked the package and now it's projected to cut more, $917 billion over ten years.

JOHN BOEHNER : It is a test. This is a big step, trying to get control of our deficit and our debt.

O'DONNELL: In an interview with Brian Williams for Sunday's special, 'Taking the Hill: Inside Congress,' Boehner played down the loud opposition from some of his own members.

BRIAN WILLIAMS: Mr. Speaker, is it fair to say you have a bit of a rebellion on your hands? Or do you feel-

JOHN BOEHNER: Oh, I've got a little bit of rebellion on my hands every day. It comes with the territory.

WILLIAMS: You're not worried?

BOEHNER: Never let them see you sweat.

O'DONNELL: The Speaker is getting heat from Senate Democrats, too. More than 50 just signed a letter saying they would block his plan because it would, 'Force us once again to face the threat of default in five or six short months.' Majority Leader Harry Reid wants to kill the Boehner bill and replace it with his own.

HARRY REID: I'm disappointed. I care about John Boehner, I think he's a good person. I've been disappointed that he's painted himself into this corner. It makes our job over here much more difficult.

O'DONNELL: If the facts weren't hard enough, House Republicans threw in some fiction. Playing this film clip from Ben Affleck's bank robber movie 'The Town' at a private meeting to fire up their members.

BEN AFFLECK: And we're going to hurt some people.

O'DONNELL: Then upset Democrats jumped at the chance to show it again.

AFFLECK: We're going to hurt some people.

DEBBIE WASSERMAN-SCHULTZ [REP. D-FL]: This is a political fight, one in which they are more interested in scoring points and hurting Democrats and the President than they are in protecting the country from an economic catastrophe.

O'DONNELL: From movies to music, the mess in Congress has gone viral.

REMY MUNASIFI [REASON.TV]: Raise the debt ceiling. Raise the debt ceiling. Raise the debt ceiling.

O'DONNELL: Oh, sorry if that's stuck in your head all day today, but maybe art will influence life. And there could be some movement today. If the House cannot get this through, than we are back to the situation of can Harry Reid's plan somehow come to save the day, if you will. There's a lot of uncertainty. House Republicans still need to convince a small number of those who've been most resistant, at least publicly, and it'll all play out today. Ann.

CURRY: Alright, Kelly O'Donnell, thank you so much for your reporting on this story.

- Kyle Drennen is a news analyst at the Media Research Center. Click here to follow Kyle Drennen on Twitter.