December 30th, 2013
05:27 PM ET
9 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 (2,649 Responses)
  1. LaughinGirl

    Please. Did anyone read the story/comments? No one made fun of the child, just Romney and his big white obscenely rich Mormon family, and every word was true. Tough. He's a public figure, let him take it like a man instead of making martyrs of himself and Queen Ann.

    January 1, 2014 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  2. MarcTheDuck

    MSNBC is trash. They are sorry they got called out on this. But had that not happened there would have been no sorrow about what they did. As I said, MSNBC is trash.

    January 1, 2014 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  3. Chuckles

    MSNBC is what actually needs some diversity. Although I agree with them on certain issues, it's painful to watch their shows sometimes. What's the point of these so-called "panel discussion" when everyone agrees with each other and viewers never hear the other side of the story/argument?

    January 1, 2014 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  4. John

    It's amazing when the RWNs attempt to spin a minor issue into something bigger. Everyone knows which party defines racism-the Republican Party. Republicans need to practice what they claim to preach. Any party which supports the flying of the Confederate flag is a party Blacks are not interested in supporting.

    January 1, 2014 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  5. dudley

    The Pillow Fight of the Week: CNN versus MSNBC

    January 1, 2014 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  6. Carl Crabtree

    What do you expect from MSNBC, that sensitive and politically correct organization? How many times have they apologized and/or dismissed some of their unbiased Hosts/commentators? This mouthpiece of the Democratic Party is as big a joke as the current administration in Washington. I wonder if they all get a tingle in their leg(?) like Chris Matthews does when he hears Obama speak..

    January 1, 2014 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  7. mike

    no better than paula deen.

    January 1, 2014 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  8. Catherine

    B O L O G N A!!! If this conversation had been had about Angelina Jolie or any of the Hollywood elite by ANY conservatives their would have been firings all around but not so on the oh so tolerant MSNBC

    January 1, 2014 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  9. ProudACLU

    The left needs to stop apologizing to the right – they only throw it against u.

    January 1, 2014 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  10. joebidennNo1

    So Romney is running for president again?

    January 1, 2014 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  11. Alan

    I really like that msnbc and the internet apologies without even mentioning the person aka perry by name until you read the article. Let's cover up and protect black racist news people. Msnbc keep doing a good job carryin the water bucket for her. That's why you will always be at the bottom of the ratings. You report opinions and bigotry not news. Again keep up the good work. Let see if you msnbc and your so called reporters and go any lower done the rabbit hole. I believe you guys can.

    January 1, 2014 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  12. jay

    Imagine if MHP responded the same way the liberal loonies have on this forum in defense of her dispicable ridicule of a oprhan girl and the adoptive family. She apologized profusely but liberals on here think there is no foul play.

    What else can you expect from liberal filth?

    January 1, 2014 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  13. call me roy

    Gee, isn't it funny how all of the news reports have an article about the Duck Dynasty issue at the top of the news columns but have the story about Melissa Harris-Perry apologizes for Romney grandchild jokes near the bottom?
    Would you expect anything more of MSNBC and Melissa Harris-Perry? They make racial jokes about Mitt Romney and his family for adopting an African-American baby and loving him as one of their own. MSNBC and Melissa are the very ones who tout ethnic love and diversity, yet they ridicule those who live as they speak. MSNBC took the same stance with Sarah Palin and her downs-syndrome baby. MSNBC should be renamed as the Communist Channel of Hypocrites. If a liberal such a Obama had adopted a 'white' child, why he would be characterized as such a 'hero' and receive the award as the "New Christ" by MSNBC? Racist Socialist Democrats! Democrats are the ones that bought, sold and owned slaves in the south to control them. Do Black folks know that? Of course not. It is never mentioned as history on the Socialist news. Communist Democrats are the ones that try to keep blacks on government assistance only to control them. Socialist, Marxist's are the most violent people, even babies are not safe! And they make fun of anyone who does nort believe the way they do. Feel lucky that you work at MSNBC that cares nothing about truth, morals, or society in general Melissa. As long as you're Communist propaganda lives
    on MSNBC, you've got nothing to worry about.
    I have one question? Where are Jessie Jackson and Al Sharpton? The conversation that took place on MSNBC with Melissa was totally racist? Where are they? Hiding apparently? Where is the NAACP? Again, hiding apparently? Where are the wealthy blacks from the entertainment and sports industry? Hiding also? I thought racism was not confined to race? I guess only white people are racist according to blacks? Don't worry MSNBC, I'm positively certain that you and you're hypocrites can sink even lower.

    January 1, 2014 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  14. Anonymous

    Melissa has a smart program. I enjoy her wit and passion. She is human. She gave an honest apology. Forgive and move on.

    January 1, 2014 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  15. SP

    I'm slightly surprised that none of the comments here are concerned with the fact that the historically white and decidedly Republican Romney family chose to name the child in question the Celtic word for "dark-skinned" aka black; so what if Melissa Harris-Perry comments on the "diversity" oriented publicity stunt that is this adoption?

    January 1, 2014 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  16. Dave

    Just quit! You are a racist and that's it!

    January 1, 2014 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  17. Ruth T

    Soabsurd... President Obama often speaks of his grandparents. He credits them for many wonderi things/traits he learned from them. They were both white. How come you refuse to acknowledge that?

    January 1, 2014 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  18. murmade

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

    is this her way of suggesting the Romney's new granddaughter will be gay? Sure looks to me like the baby is wearing the "girl" variation in the photo.

    January 1, 2014 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  19. Imbustinloose

    Strange how you don't see Sharpton, Jackson, or Perry adopt a needy black child. I wonder why that is? Could be it's beneath them to deal with commoners children?

    January 1, 2014 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  20. Debi

    My question,is they have plenty of money why did they choose to adopt a black child instead of a nice little blond matching child? This is a huge concern to me? Do they intend to be kind to this child??? I really am deeply concerned for this beautiful little baby. Debi

    January 1, 2014 10:41 pm at 10:41 pm |
  21. Glen

    Right wing fake outrage to the max.

    January 1, 2014 11:07 pm at 11:07 pm |
  22. AVD

    I agree! Where is Al Sharpton now??? Is he putting his political position over his racial "values?" Democrat or Republican, what this network did was atrocious! I hope that child never hears what that person said, when he is older – you have no idea how that affects adopted children. This is sick and the ones who are the loudest, are not saying anything now. Where's the irony? Such hypocrisy!!

    January 1, 2014 11:49 pm at 11:49 pm |
  23. jrt1098

    MARTIN BASHIR
    ALEC BALDWIN
    CRAZY EDDIE
    MELISSA HARRIS -PERRY

    ... and the State Run Media brands the TEA PARTY as extremists !!!
    this crap has been going on at MSNBC, and in a much more subtle fashion CNN ... forever !
    Left wing political bias ... is REAL
    The death of a "free and independent press" may in fact be the most significant event of all !!!

    January 2, 2014 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  24. Benny

    Melissa appears to be not only racist, but completely compromised as any type of journalist. Her communist leanings make her opposed to anyone in favor of actual freedom, so if she continues to be endorsed by this employer we will surely see more of her abusive dialog.

    January 2, 2014 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
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