December 30th, 2013
05:27 PM ET
4 months ago

MSNBC host apologizes after panel makes fun of Romney photo with black grandchild

Updated 2:48 p.m. ET, 12/31/2013

(CNN) - An MSNBC host apologized Tuesday morning after she and panelists on her weekend program faced criticism for poking fun at a photo of Mitt Romney, his wife and their nearly two dozen grandchildren, zeroing in on the Romneys' recently adopted African-American grandchild, Kieran.

"I am sorry. Without reservation or qualification. I apologize to the Romney family. #MHPapology," Melissa Harris-Perry wrote on Twitter. Her statements were also posted on MSNBC's website.

"As black child born into large white Mormon family I feel familiarity w/ Romney family pic & never meant to suggest otherwise."

Harris-Perry has Mormon ancestors, and her mother graduated from Brigham Young University in Utah, where she wrote articles about Mormon womanhood, according to Religion Dispatches online magazine. Harris-Perry, herself, identifies as a Unitarian Universalist.

"I apologize to all families built on loving transracial adoptions who feel I degraded their lives or choices," she continued, on Twitter.

Transracial adoptions: A 'feel good' act or 'no big deal'?

During the segment, which appeared on the show "Melissa Harris-Perry," the panelists made jokes about the infant standing out.

Two panelists later said their comments weren’t directed at the baby and apologized if the family was offended.

Asked Sunday to come up with captions for the photo as part of a game they were playing, one of panelists, actress Pia Glenn, started singing lines from the song popularized by Sesame Street: "One of These Things Is Not Like the Others."

Another panelist, comedian Dean Obeidallah, said the picture "really sums up the diversity of the Republican Party." (Obeidallah appears frequently on CNN and writes a regular opinion column for CNN.com.)

Harris-Perry described the baby as "gorgeous," before predicting Kieran would one day marry North West, the daughter of Kanye West and Kim Kardashian.

"Can you imagine Mitt Romney and Kanye West as in-laws?" Harris-Perry said, drawing laughs.

CNN reached out to Romney for a comment.

Glenn, the panelist who sang the song, first defended her comments on Twitter, but later apologized.

"Adoptive parents giving a child of ANY ethnicity a loving home,I apologize.I absolutely did not intend to harm you but it seems that I have," she wrote.

For his part, Obeidallah also defended his comments but said in an email to CNN he was not trying to mock the family or the baby.

"Occasionally my jokes have been known to 'cross the line' and I can assure you that in the future some of my jokes will do that again," he said. "My joke on MHP was not intended in any way to mock the Romney family or the baby they adopted. Rather it was a joke about the lack of racial diversity that we see at the Republican National Convention. I apologize to the Romney family and especially the baby if any of them were offended by that joke."

In September, Romney announced on Twitter that Kieran James Romney had been adopted. His son Ben and daughter-in-law Andelynne are the parents.

After Republican blogs and commentators pointed out the panel’s comments, the criticism started pouring in Monday.

Stuart Stevens, a political consultant and senior adviser to Romney's 2012 presidential campaign, tweeted "MSNBC has become a club where the smug go to exchange hateful opinions and reassure each other it's acceptable."

Former Republican Sen. Scott Brown, a friend of the Romneys, urged MSNBC to apologize for what he called the "wildly inappropriate incident. Viewers and the Romney family deserve better."

"Check out these adult progressives on MSNBC mocking a black child for being adopted by a white family," tweeted conservative commentator and radio host Dana Loesch.

And early Tuesday Sarah Palin weighed in.

"It's a beautiful thing the Romney family has done by embracing “the spirit of adoption.” What on earth is more beautiful? Shame on MSNBC for mocking this," the former Alaska governor and 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee wrote on her Facebook page

– CNN's Josh Levs contributed to this report.


Filed under: Mitt Romney
soundoff (2,650 Responses)
  1. Borderless

    Making fun of white people who have adopted black children used to be confined to ultra-conservative bigots.

    Are there any true liberals left anywhere?

    December 30, 2013 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  2. smith

    Is anybody really surprised by the show of disrespect by MSNBC and Perry. All she does during her program is talk white rascism and gender bias.

    December 30, 2013 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  3. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    The "One of these things is not like the others" comment was completely classless.
    The Kanye West for an in-law comment was funny.
    It just goes to show that tacky racists exist in BOTH parties, and that good journalists have long ago been buried.

    December 30, 2013 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  4. carolbannon

    MSNBC has become the Station of Hate... bigotry cloaked in liberal sarcasm. That child is loved, cared for, and WANTED by the family. They are proud of their family – and want to share their pride with the country. Why is THAT something to be made fun of...an apology AND suspension is in order for that host.

    December 30, 2013 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  5. anon

    Melissa Harris Perry was raised by a white mother so I highly doubt she is mocking a black child raised by a white family (nor is that how I took it on its face). This is a nontroversey (spelling purposeful).

    December 30, 2013 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  6. The Truth

    That kid is not going to fit in wherever he grows up

    December 30, 2013 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  7. Gigi

    Nasty woman. If a white Republican had done the same they would be all over it. Horrible.

    December 30, 2013 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  8. harleydavidson

    It's OK to joke about a Black kid if it is done by a Liberal.

    December 30, 2013 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  9. E-Dawg

    It's one thing to joke about it in private-but on TV? In public and on a supposed news outlet. MSNBC is scary scary stuff-even worse than Fox News! Both have bias, but I see so much more hate on MSNBC.

    December 30, 2013 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  10. DaveNYUSA

    Like CNN has room to criticize!

    December 30, 2013 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  11. Jolat

    Nobody watches MSNBC. it's the only way they get any attention. However, now this child will have a chance for a good life instead of being stuck in the system.

    December 30, 2013 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  12. Mary ZEMKE

    Although I donot agree with this families politics, I must say they are a bueatiful family, god bless them all.

    December 30, 2013 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  13. Michael Ritchie

    This is something that Liberals refuse to believe about themselves because they are progressive and have higher beliefs and motives. Truth is they can be just as worse as the rest of society. Thank you for letting this out for the rest of the country to admire.

    December 30, 2013 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  14. Gurgyl

    Why not we get over with this lost in space Romney bs....

    December 30, 2013 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  15. shawn

    How does MSNBC get away with this garbage? Here the family is adopting and MSNBC racist elitist want to turn it into a racial issue. What if someone on another network did the exact same thing? MSNBC is truly a sad network, no coverage just political groupthink.

    December 30, 2013 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  16. Anonymous

    I won't try to justify this, because I can't.

    However, I will point out that what the Republicans did to McCain and his adopted black daughter was as bad....or worse.

    Selective outrage by the Republicans is an every day occurrence.

    BTW...........if you haven't read it, all you Phil "Mr. Duck" Robertson fans should know, he has a video out telling young men to marry their "women" at the age of 15 or 16. If they wait until they are 20, the women won't "pick their ducks"
    (meaning they won't pull out the feathers), and they better carry their Bibles.
    Better watch your daughters all you "Duck" lovers, the faux Christian has spoken.

    PS. Credit to Rudy NYC for "Mr Duck".......thank you Rudy.

    December 30, 2013 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  17. JacinJax

    I've never been a fan of Romney but this was totally uncalled for. What happens when this child googles himself and this woman pops up singing about him being different. I don't care if you're Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Green Party, etc.–Kids Are Off Limits!!

    December 30, 2013 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  18. Tony

    Romney may be a crummy politician, but there is no need to make fun of him about his adopted grandchild.

    December 30, 2013 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  19. Mike

    Seems to me that since hard working white taxpayers are already paying for the upbringing of black children through welfare, public assistance, food stamps, etc. it is only logical for white people to actually raise the black children and teach them how to get an education, then a good paying job, and finally to be God fearing, good members of society!

    December 30, 2013 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  20. Pander Bear

    I'm a liberal. And I think this was disgraceful. If these panelists have nothing of value or interest to impart, they should go to Fox News. Zing!

    December 30, 2013 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  21. Walter Jasniewski

    The funny thing is, that adopted baby is worth more than everyone that works at MSNBC combined. What a pathetic joke of a news channel.

    December 30, 2013 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  22. Laughing

    I would expect nothing less from PMSNBC. Their lack of class and concern for others was best shown by Chris Matthews who after all the deaths and destruction said "Thank God for Hurricane Sandy."

    December 30, 2013 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  23. DODGER

    msnbc is really just for haters. What kind of person makes fun of a family that adopts? Are they going to make fun og Brad and Angelina or Madonna....Worthless news channel.

    December 30, 2013 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  24. Susan

    The fact that she doesn't see anything wrong with what she did is the problem.

    December 30, 2013 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  25. Get used to IT tea potty! 3 more yrs to spew ur hate @Obama

    Oh yeah, the way Faux News makes fun of Obama & his family everyday!!!

    It's just pure humor and when it's making a joke a sin in America? Its free speech yall.....lighten up gop tea potty!!!!!

    LOL

    December 30, 2013 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
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