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. mark j jeannie

    Despicable bigots and racists at MSNBC. I am not surprised at any comments coming out of this network, they are always spreading hate toward other groups and people. Eventually the character of a person will come out, by the way they talk, and what they say. I guess this is the best we can expect, from the network of Martin Bashir and other like minded haters that are allowed to spread hatred, racists views, to the rest of the world.

    January 1, 2014 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  2. Jesus H Christ

    Romney is a panderer supreme. Although I applaud them for adopting a child, my guess is that adopting a black child has more to do with his political ambitions than anything else. He's simply trying to pander the black votes that alluded him in the last election.

    January 1, 2014 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  3. rtrauben

    mellisa,
    what you and your panelists did was wrong.
    thanks for doing the needful to make amends.

    please decide whether you are an entertainer
    or properly biased public policy analyst. your
    career depends on it and you have an important
    voice that should be heard.

    January 1, 2014 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  4. mark jeann

    MSNBC has been spreading bigotry and hate for many years now. Their is no apology or excuse for their constant hate
    they spread. The true character of a individual comes out eventually, as it has with Harris-Perry. She is no better than Martin Bashir. Shame on you, MSNBC for allowing such people on the air. Have you no conscious or standards at all?

    January 1, 2014 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  5. Fish

    We must stop this political correctness where folks can't say what they truly feel for fear of being fired, ostracized or ridiculed she made an honest comment on an obvious situation. I think the kid surely sticks out as different in that picture!!!

    January 1, 2014 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  6. Anonymous

    Does anyone else find it pathetic that the apology was via Twitter?

    January 1, 2014 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  7. David

    MSNBC needs to have MHP resign. If this were ANY other white journalist they would be literally arrested, tried and convicted for the comments....literally.

    January 1, 2014 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  8. ladyscot

    Oh for heaven's sake. Everything has to be racial and bigoted. Get over it. The child is black. He IS different than the others. MY grandbaby is black and she is a different color. We love her. The joke was funny. People take crap too dang seriously anymore and always have to be calling for someone to lose their job over some imagined slight. Everyone who is in an uproar needs to take a look in their closet and calm the skeletons trying to beat the door down before they talk about someone else. I think they all should be fired from their jobs because according to their way of thinking they have also offended someone at some point and should be punished for it.

    January 1, 2014 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  9. jenn,philadelphia

    She apologized through twitter. That's unacceptable. The insult was made on the air and should be apologized in the same way. There are certain things that require action through the old-fashioned methods and an apology is one of them. Also, for people who don't think it was an insult, try to remember the lyrics to that song – "one of these things is not like the other, one of these things DOESN'T belong".

    January 1, 2014 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  10. nancy nurse

    I rarely watched anything on the NBC/ MSNBC network due to their complete lack of credibility and sensibility. These pathetic ill informed-liberal talking heads are not journalists. They lack integrity and compassion. I find it ironic these liberals blasted the Romney family for adopting a black child yet they continue to idolize a president who is also black. The Romney family has more class than these commentators could ever attain.. I will never watch these networks again and suggest all people with integrity also tune out. Wake up America and become responsible compassionate people. . I'm sure if we looked at these commentators family pictures we could criticize them but anyone with class would never do so. Shame on this network for employing these people

    January 1, 2014 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  11. Robyn

    Will we ever be able to "SEE" past RACE? There are so many blended race families today. By adoption, by marriage, etc. It does not matter. Can't we all see that we are all people? Americans? Not black, not white.

    January 1, 2014 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  12. Truthful1

    Typical Liberal Hypocrisy not only allowed to go on at NBC whom are owners of the Abysmal MSNBC, but celebrated in the same way Pierce Morgan is with their Self-Righteous indignation against anyone that is conservative or a wealthy Business Man with exception to of course the Hollywood Elitists who Pal up with Obama, and other Liberal Inside The Beltway Privileged Dems.

    January 1, 2014 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  13. Denny K

    Just imagine Sean Hannity making the same comparison with Brand and Angelina or Madonna and their adopted children...

    January 1, 2014 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  14. Dan McCall

    So the Romneys might as well just named the child "little black one". Which is the Gaelic meaning for Kieran. Perhaps a name change is in order.

    January 1, 2014 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  15. hotstuffpdx

    Oh here we go. Outrage! But then they say DD Robertson can speak his mind because of free speech. Well, it was a joke protected under free speech. So go eat that for lunch fox news viewers.

    January 1, 2014 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  16. Freedom Ain't Free

    They got the kid to use as a prop in future political campaigns.

    January 1, 2014 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  17. MAJR

    What kind of role models are these so-called journalists? I think that they all should be fired for their stupid remarks.
    God Bless the Rommey family for adopting a black child and giving him the chance of growing up in such a loving family.
    And, God Bless the birth mother of this beautiful child for recognizing that another family could give her baby a better life.
    This is what is wrong with the US, when politics spills over into our everyday life!

    January 1, 2014 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  18. Sean T

    Stay classy liberals. This is the real look inside the liberal camp. They preach tolerance yet are actually the most intolerant of all. Where's their fake "outrage"?

    January 1, 2014 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  19. nclaw441

    She and the panelists insulted the Romneys on TV. An apology on Twitter is not sufficient. She may as well apologized in her diary.

    January 1, 2014 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  20. section8hypo

    It's ALWAYS like this. The liberals fetishisize tolerance and "diversity" but when it comes right down to it...they're the most intolerant of all. Name a single news commentator on the right who does this. Even Rush Limbaugh (who is no stranger to saying idiotic things) doesn't have the consistent record that liberals do. Even assuming the conservatives did this at the same frequency as the liberals, which they don't, at least the conservatives aren't intellectually dishonest, they don't cry out for tolerance and then act intolerance.

    January 1, 2014 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  21. Anonymous

    you fox news readers should step back and take a look at the lies etc. that is on fox News. Everyone needs health care and only negative remarks come out of all on your channel.......Adopting the baby is a good thing, only I feel it is for
    publicity....

    January 1, 2014 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  22. vr45

    When a conservative says politically or socially insensitive things they claim to quote from 'Gospel' and hardly apologize. MSNBC seems eager to please those demanding apology.

    January 1, 2014 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  23. Bob M

    Typical liberal hypocrisy. Grandpa Duck got pilloried and suspended from his A&E show for making comments that some found unacceptable, but MHP just "apologizes" on Twitter and that's enough?

    No.

    She should publicly apologize on air, and halt her racist comments and behavior. Remember, this is the woman who said that children belong to the community, not to their own families. She needs to go. Her racist, divisive ways have no place in a civilized society. Yes, I said it – she's a racist.Deal with it, liberals. Its not so pretty when you're the target of the "R" word, is it?

    January 1, 2014 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  24. Dave

    Amazing to me how you don't see the Jesse Jacksons and Al Sharptons rushing in to be involved in correcting this panel on MSNBC. They have no problem bashing the Duck Dynasty guys, but they won't attack their own liberal side for obvious racism. So, how real can these clowns be? How inconsistent. The Romney family adopts a African American baby to provide a family, shelter, safety, food, cloithing and love and where are the likes of Jackson, Sharpton and the others. How hypocritical in the worst way. Just can't give any credit to Romney's while bashing the liberal media? You guys are sick.

    January 1, 2014 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  25. candros

    Seriously? They apologize for joke? It was not a 'Joke' is was a racist attack. Please report the real story.

    January 1, 2014 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
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