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. U1234W

    Where are the Jesse Jacksons and the Obamas coming to the rescue of this child. (If I had a son, he would look like him too..)

    December 31, 2013 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  2. Pat Ryot

    hypocrites, had this been fox commenting on Obama adopting a white child...the outrage would have led to riots in chicago. you leftlibs are so two faced its disgusting, always love the PC crowd and their inconsistent responses.

    December 31, 2013 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  3. Big Will

    adoption of a black child is only this families latest attempt to look like they give a crap about anyone but high white society. another gimmick with a child caught in the middle of Mitt Dumbney's family scams...

    December 31, 2013 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  4. Figures

    If this were a Conservative running their mouth people would be clamoring for them to be fired.

    December 31, 2013 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  5. jim g

    melissa harris-perry is as smug and racist as they come. MSNBC and FOX are cut from the same cloth – both unfair, and biased, smug and arrogant. their listeners are there not listen and think, but just to have what they already believe reinforced.

    December 31, 2013 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  6. jc

    A new low for liberal media for 2013.

    December 31, 2013 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  7. joan

    looks like there's finally a minority member of the republican party

    December 31, 2013 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  8. rob

    The "perpetually offended" people have a funny sense of what is racist.
    Jessie Jackson said recently that Phil Robertson was racist because of something he didn't SEE decades ago. .

    That apparently is racism. But this isn't....

    December 31, 2013 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  9. Don

    MSNBC hires Liberal hacks who are without a doubt the biggest racists on the planet – this one was just too dumb to keep her mask on and pretend to be an objective journalist

    December 31, 2013 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  10. Louis Cipher

    I feel sorry for anyone born into the cult that is Mormonism.

    December 31, 2013 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  11. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    It's funny how the right wing stiffs get so up in arms when a liberal zings them. This uptightendness is EXACTLY why you guys are so easy to make fun of AMEN TO THAT!!!!!!!!!!
    -------------------------------------------------
    AMEN and HOLLA LOU YER!!
    Lol!

    December 31, 2013 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  12. Salvo

    MSNBC host and guest "jokes" were wrong on so many levels. I really don't understand why MSNBC hosts have to be so mean and spiteful. I'm all for debating the issues and differences of opions. But MSNBC is just plain mean and nasty.

    December 31, 2013 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  13. judith

    It is indeed a good thing that the apology was made. I am a proud liberal, but when anyone makes a snide, stupid comment, an apology is called for. In fact, given the history of the Mormon Church and their one time contempt for blacks, this is a very progressive sign.

    December 31, 2013 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  14. S Smith

    Sad state of affairs when such ignorance rules politics. Kieran is being adopted into a republican family. Unbeknownst to the blinded, he will feel a lot less ostracized there than with the elite democrats who propose to know who is a republican and who isn't by the color of skin. Shame on all of us for being so stunted in our growth as humans.

    December 31, 2013 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  15. Citizen

    Why USA becoming so racist?
    This country I proudly say my home!!!

    December 31, 2013 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  16. Aim4TheFace

    What about MPH's freedom of speech?? And all these folks feigning outrage over this, let's see what you'd say in 15 years when he's walking home in a hoodie with a bag of skittles...

    December 31, 2013 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  17. hannah

    Oh please. Get over it!

    December 31, 2013 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  18. Freddo

    So ... where's the outrage from the Left? Had a conservative commentator made those remarks, they'd be all over them.

    Hypocrisy ... both parties suffer from it.

    December 31, 2013 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  19. DryBones179

    I'm not shock by this after is MSLSD here so I expected nothing less from the extreme wing nut jobs over there. =P

    December 31, 2013 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  20. Truck

    Liberals invented & own the race card.PERIOD.

    December 31, 2013 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  21. JOhn

    Its a good thing for them that Sara Palin and her crowd are against taking actions for offensive speech.

    December 31, 2013 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  22. ontoem

    Well, don't forget, Harris-Perry also said the state owns your children. Not you. She's a pretty bold girl with a lot of backing to say such a thing. Soon, home schooling will be illegal and killer vaccinations mandatory for all. Well, except for the bad guys. Watch ALEX Jones.com for real news.

    December 31, 2013 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  23. Mike

    Doesnt this fall under the same freedom of speech everyone claimed for Phil Robertson? You cant defend one and renounce the other unless you are a hypocrite.

    December 31, 2013 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  24. Rob

    I thought Joseph Smith wrote in his Holy Book that black people were an abomination and cursed by God. Seems they've lightened up on that. Good for them. Maybe they can lighten up on gay marriage too then, since their scripture is so malleable.

    December 31, 2013 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  25. SC

    This entire issue is an exercise in hypocrisy for those rushing to condemn MSNBC. If you really cared about African American children, this country would be a different place. Besides, MSNBC wasn't joking about the child, just the hypocrisy of the GOP. Get real.

    December 31, 2013 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
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