December 30th, 2013
05:27 PM ET
3 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. slim j

    the fact that 98 pages are dedicated to this slip of the tongue just shows UK people how sad Americans have become, she apologized which says she messed up.

    But 1 little word from a talking head not even a politician remember .. a talking head ?

    can be magnified for political tit tat ... so sad America get a grip. GET A GRIP or A life ?

    December 31, 2013 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |
  2. slim james

    get a grip America , she does not make policy ? she is a news presenter ? she is a talking head.

    Stop watching so much news you sad people !

    December 31, 2013 10:20 pm at 10:20 pm |
  3. alfonds

    Good looking baby

    December 31, 2013 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  4. Jim

    In the future if a White man want to become President he will have to be adopted by a gay black family.

    December 31, 2013 10:24 pm at 10:24 pm |
  5. Amy

    Better to adopt than to have yet another kid. Jeepers.

    December 31, 2013 10:30 pm at 10:30 pm |
  6. Steve

    Self described "liberals" are...and always have been the most miserable vicious people on earth. Total hypocrites with no soul, blinded by a flawed ideology more important to them than human decency.

    December 31, 2013 10:30 pm at 10:30 pm |
  7. harleydavidson

    I'll be waiting to see if the liberals will act properly and rebuke their own. We'll see.

    December 31, 2013 10:31 pm at 10:31 pm |
  8. harleydavidson

    Some liberals are already defending MSNBC. If MSNBC does not believe they did anything wrong, whey would they apologize. At least they have the honor to apologize.

    December 31, 2013 10:33 pm at 10:33 pm |
  9. RamboJohnJ

    Very stupid move on their part.. Seriously joking about an adopted child? News programs in America just needs to come with canned laughter and a rim shot for some of these clowns..

    One question. So why is it guests on Faux News are allowed to call Obama names, suggest assassination and support of violence towards Democratic supporters, with no repercussions and they attempt to wrap themselves in the 2nd Amendment as a defense, but there's never an apology or a firing? Hell they go straight to Palin Central to see what the 1/2 term gov has to say about anything.. But yet she's one of the first in line to demand an apology.

    December 31, 2013 10:33 pm at 10:33 pm |
  10. meki60

    the joke is not Romney, MSNBC is the real joke

    December 31, 2013 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  11. ConanDestroyer

    The most racist people I know are mostly democrats.

    December 31, 2013 10:45 pm at 10:45 pm |
  12. Anonymous

    Why is the baby dressed in pink and frilly socks if it is supposed to be his grandson?!

    December 31, 2013 10:52 pm at 10:52 pm |
  13. Big_D

    The Romney family photo is more racially diverse than the GOP. Scary but true.

    December 31, 2013 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  14. David

    It's a SINGLE black child among a dozen white people. Surprise people IT STANDS OUT!!! So what? She pointed out the obvious. It's not like that wasn't already being thought in people's homes when you see the picture. Just a normal game of "one of these things is not like the others"

    December 31, 2013 11:00 pm at 11:00 pm |
  15. William

    Did I miss something? Was the insult about Romneys grandchild and Kanyes daughter? Why aren't the other panelist apologizing? Why is it conservative were screaming Freedom of Speech with the Duck Dynasty but now she is a racist but Phil's not?

    December 31, 2013 11:02 pm at 11:02 pm |
  16. native

    One reader said – all people are kidding themselves if they didn't chuckle at then picture:( Your CNN viewers are warped beyond compassion. As a Native American mother, it is so sad to see you viewers make EXCUSES for the MSNBC host for poking unsalted laughs at the expense of the Romney family. Cant you see the network and hosts have an AGENDA. Can you see they had to find the picture and post it to the world to point out that something is wrong with that family. How low can they get?

    December 31, 2013 11:04 pm at 11:04 pm |
  17. Quinx

    I admire and fully support those families who can open their homes and hearts to children of different races. This country puts too much emphasis on color. It's what's on the inside, not the outside, that counts. Though I can't stand Romney, I am happy his family is looking past color. What a great life this child can have. Good bless the Romneys!

    December 31, 2013 11:08 pm at 11:08 pm |
  18. Norman

    A year since the election and some folks keep bashing a good man who has returned to private life. At the same time, the ongoing bashing of the President seems to be losing no steam. What happened to fighting hard to win an election and then coming together as Americans. This kind of racism has no place in the Democratic party or the Republican party. Grow up MSNBC and celebrate a good American family for the good things they do like adoption . . . even if you can't agree with their politics.

    December 31, 2013 11:09 pm at 11:09 pm |
  19. Perecorp

    There's far worse people on the planet then the Romney's...

    January 1, 2014 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  20. Larry Lamartina

    How did somebody as stupid as Melissa Perry get to where she is in life?. This can't be the first time she has said something this stupid. nbc sure knows how to pick winners

    January 1, 2014 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  21. Jep

    let it go CNN unless you want the same treatment when someone on your news network makes the same mistake. It will surely happen sooner or later.

    January 1, 2014 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  22. swatguy

    Sorry pretty much sums up MSNBC.

    January 1, 2014 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  23. jim

    I think NBC should apologize for employing low lifes like this

    January 1, 2014 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  24. Esaias

    Just goes to show you what bigots the liberal media and the Democrats really are.

    January 1, 2014 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  25. William A

    We should all celebrate the fact that the Romney family adopted a child. This was a Christmas family photo, and all I see is Love in this picture.

    January 1, 2014 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
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