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. mike

    Is THIS what CNN thinks is the world's biggest news story right now? *facepalm*

    December 31, 2013 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  2. visitor

    When my family fled Europe after WWII they were sponsored by a Louisianan and they spent their first night in the US in New Orleans. My Grandfather remarked that black people were the nicest people he ever saw, heck, they moved off the sidewalk just to let him pass.

    This is NOT a joke. This is a family story. I repeat it to show how clueless and racist that Duck boy is when he was cackling about how good African Americans had it before getting all entitled to walk on the sidewalk and all.

    Whatever was said on MSNBC is tasteless and if someone loses a job that is the way it goes, but there WAS an apology.

    Duck Boy is unapologetic and keeps working. Duck Boy doesn't even get how racist he actually is. Duck Boy gets a whole bunch of people backing him. THAT is the difference between racists and their fans and simple bad taste. THAT is the difference between good people and bad people. Bad people deny the evil within then go on the attack.

    December 31, 2013 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  3. M

    Also, why do so many people apologize after they've done or said something stupid? How about not saying something dumb to begin with? As it was stated in a popular Disney movie a long time ago, "if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all".

    December 31, 2013 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  4. king

    why every time a msnbc personality, say something out of the normal, they're jobs are at risk, joking or not. yet when one of fox news personality makes off the beat remarks santa clause being white, everyone seems to sweep that under the rug,. i am tired of this double standard. and one other thing, i just realize that fox news doesn't have not one democratic host. how the hell do they still call themselves a viable net work for the general public, this is blasphemy. msnbc have 3 hours of morning joe, and you cant get more right winged than old Joe. what the hell is going on with fox one sided news.

    December 31, 2013 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  5. TinLV

    I get what they were doing.. making fun of the Repubs for being the lily-white party of exclusion... but.. I disagree with the way they did it. What was said was just plain wrong.. and stupid. Come on, people.. surely there are much better, and easier, ways to make fun at the expense of the Republican party.. go find some.

    December 31, 2013 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  6. ora pike

    this is the most racist thing i have seen or heard-where is sharpton and jail time jackson on this???? putting down a black baby because the baby lives with white people???? EXPLAIN WHY THEY ARE NOT TAKEN OFF THE AIR. It is like NBC uses them as stepchilds to preach racism and hate. Don't see the usual upset people--upset???? why is that???? a double standard???

    December 31, 2013 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  7. Rudy NYC

    willard22 wrote:

    Wow Matt! I love this response. Any time a conservative says something that draws criticism, race to judge and blow the thing up. If a lib says or does something disgusting like this the stock lefty response is "Arent there bigger things going on in the world today?" There certainly are Matt and I bet MHP is sitting at home wishing she had picked one to focus on instead of making fun of a little kid or his family's decision to adopt him.
    -------------------------
    You're overlooking the most obvious difference. When a liberal makes a gaffe, they apologize and try to move on. They just might say something like, "Aren't there bigger things going on in the world today?" BUT. But, when a conservative makes a gaffe, not only do the not apologize, they will defend the offensive remarks, play the victim card, and then go fund raising.

    December 31, 2013 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  8. Big_D

    I think I will turn on MSNBC tonight just to triple their ratings. Boycotting a show that nobody watches doesn't do much, I want to create change!

    December 31, 2013 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  9. Outrageous

    Everyone keeps saying what if Obama's family was made fun of? Remember this: “The blood of Jesus against Obama History made 4 Nov 2008 a Taliban Muslim illegally elected President USA: Hussein.”Palin loved this on twitter! I mean how many times have they called him a Muslim in a derogatory way? Which on so many levels is just wrong. It just seems to me people truly have tunnel vision when it comes to these matters.

    December 31, 2013 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  10. gl

    Regardless of who Romney is, derogatory comments such as these are uncalled for.

    Good enough reason for me to stop watching/reading/listening MSNBC anything.

    December 31, 2013 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  11. photografr7

    I disagree. I don't think MSNBC was poking fun at Romney's black grandson. I think they poking fun at the fact that Romney's only black grandson, unlike the rest of Romney's VERY WHITE grandchildren, was "not like the others."

    December 31, 2013 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  12. Rocky

    The lefties are BIGGER hyporcrites than those on the right..that's for sure.

    December 31, 2013 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  13. Not Surprised

    They are only sorry that they got caught revealing their true nature.

    December 31, 2013 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  14. Anonymous

    But i thought only Republicans and conservatives could be racist....huh?

    December 31, 2013 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  15. Yvonne

    They all should be fire! Black and black rascism is on the rise. How many blacks will go out and a adopt a full black child, not many because they hate themselves. To the Romney Family I would like to say i'm sorry and thank you very much to open up your home to a child, a black child. Thanks. One hundred years from now it will not matter the car I drive or the house I lived in but it will matter if I was involved in the life of a child.

    December 31, 2013 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  16. Tiger Who

    We all know the haters and racists in the media

    December 31, 2013 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  17. David

    It speaks volumes to the integrity of Mr. and Ms. Romney that they raised a child who would lovingly adopt a child of another race to become her own son. For all of the vicious claims that Republicans hate minorities, this loving and living example speaks more loudly than any clever catchphrases and arguments wielded by liberal hatemongers.

    December 31, 2013 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  18. Name

    Heads should roll over thesen idiotic comments made by these liberal monkeys?

    December 31, 2013 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  19. allan

    I am half of a multi racial family and sometimes these things are funny. Relax people.

    December 31, 2013 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  20. The Sheriff

    at least he wont be on Public Aid like his other kin.

    December 31, 2013 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  21. Rudy NYC

    I think the real story that's being overlooked is why is it that the child has been named "the black one" on the sly.

    December 31, 2013 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  22. Serge

    I sometimes watch MSNBC, so that at least makes six of us.

    December 31, 2013 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  23. shawnylou

    Well, aint that just sweet. ya know I have stood by and allowed many to talk over me. I am in the middle a democrat who is NOT happy with the remarks made to Romney regarding the new baby in the family. I have mixed babies.. almost grown now. I found the comment repulsive and snooty. It shows that no one belief, is any better than the others. I feel for the daughter of Romney's, because how degrading can it get because "Dad" is in the public eye. I still say and will continue to say , lay off the families of politicians , all of them. it is dirty, feels dirty and does anyone sleep, knowing that came out of their mouth? geeeeze!

    December 31, 2013 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  24. ART

    I'am sorry but the photo does represent the diversity of the Retrhuglican party

    December 31, 2013 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  25. Linda

    Another case of talk show host being rude. How would they feel if it was their child? Kiern is so lucky to have such a warm loving family to call his own. Bsides he is beautiful. Best wishes to the Romney Family

    December 31, 2013 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
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