CNN and WaPo's Sally Quinn Gush Over Obama Kids' 'Magical' New School

CNN correspondent Joe Johns’ report on Monday’s American Morning heaped praise upon Sidwell Friends School, the new school for the Obama daughters. Johns read from one of the school’s own mission statements about its “Quaker values” and later described how President-Elect Obama apparently “often seems in tune with Quaker principles -- seeking consensus with others; talking rather than fighting with opponents; and, at least in the case of Iraq, if not Afghanistan, opposing war even when the majority supports it.” The correspondent also featured three clips from The Washington Post’s Sally Quinn, who gushed over school: “Sidwell is a happy school....it can be a really magical place.”

Johns began introducing Sidwell Friends as “among the elite private schools in Washington,” and set the laudatory tone of the report by playing the first clip from Quinn, who described the school as “very much about peace and community” and that it’s “very progressive.” He continued by highlighting how “the Obamas selected the school that was the best fit for what their daughters need right now.”

After reading an excerpt from Sidwell Friends’ “Quaker values” statement, the correspondent played a clip from Bo Lauder, the principal of Friends Seminary, another elite Quaker school in New York City. Mr. Lauder, in true “hope and change” fashion, emphasized that “[w]ith Obama’s position on war, and his own commitment to hope and to the future, I think that he feels probably that the school will equip his children well for bringing about a better world.” Johns continued in this vein with his statement on how Obama “seems in tune with Quaker principles.”

The report concluded with two clips from Quinn. She gave a bit of history on the children of presidents and vice-presidents who went to Sidwell Friends in the first clip, and then went over-the-top about how great the school was in the second: “Sidwell is a happy school. I think the children who go there are children who really feel good about themselves at the end of the day. They’re happy children. It’s -- it can be a really magical place.”

The full transcript of Joe Johns’ report, which began 21 minutes into the 6 am Eastern hour of Monday’s American Morning:

ROB MARCIANO: It’s the first day at a new school for the Obama girls. The soon-to-be First Daughters, Malia and Sasha Obama, start classes at Sidwell Friends. CNN’s Joe Johns has a closer look at the Washington private school that’s no secret to students with Secret Service in tow.

JOE JOHNS (voice-over): Sidwell Friends, founded in 1883 by a Quaker teacher, is among the elite private schools in Washington.

SALLY QUINN, THE WASHINGTON POST: Sidwell Friends is a Quaker school, first of all, and it’s really infused with Quaker values. It’s very much about peace and community. It’s very progressive. It’s about 40 percent minority.

JOHNS: Michelle Obama’s spokesperson says a number of great schools were considered. In the end, the Obamas selected the school that was the best fit for what their daughters need right now. So what’s so special about Sidwell? There is the philosophy. Sidwell says its students and faculty are on a search for truth and the school follows a Quaker belief ‘that of God in each of us inspires everything we do, inspires us to show kindness and respect toward one another, and apply our talents and service to others.’

BO LAUDER, PRINCIPAL, FRIENDS SEMINARY: I think it’s a great fit for the Obama family because the school is a very rigorous academic place that places a lot of value on intellectual inquiry. With Obama’s position on war, and his own commitment to hope and to the future, I think that he feels probably that the school will equip his children well for bringing about a better world.

JOHNS: And Obama often seems in tune with Quaker principles -- seeking consensus with others; talking rather than fighting with opponents; and, at least in the case of Iraq, if not Afghanistan, opposing war even when the majority supports it. The Obama girls aren’t the only First Family children who have opted for Sidwell.

QUINN: Chelsea Clinton went there. Al Gore -- young Al Gore went there. The Nixon girls went there. Teddy Roosevelt’s children went there. The Biden grandchildren go there. They’re very, very good about security. They understand about that, and they also understand about children who are in the public eye a lot.

JOHNS: Sidwell isn’t cheap. For the lower school, where Sasha will attend second grade, tuition is nearly $29,000, and more for the middle school, where Malia will be in fifth grade. But Sidwell can afford to ask top dollar.

QUINN: Sidwell is a happy school. I think the children who go there are children who really feel good about themselves at the end of the day. They’re happy children. It’s -- it can be a really magical place.

JOHNS (on-camera): And by the time the president-elect takes the oath of office, the Obama girls will have two weeks of Washington schooling under their belts. So today, in a way, they’re getting a head start on their dad. Rob and Kiran?

CHETRY: Joe Johns, thanks.

Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center