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. JP

    I am a young college student. I have, for the most part, not come into agreement with most Republican views. Their stance on guns, immigration, minimum wage (< although I understand the ramifications of that); but mostly what Mitt Romney was caught saying by a hidden mic: '95% of life is set up for you if you are born in this country"..." yet his father was born in Mexico??? His views are extremely flip-flop....as we say in NY he's a flip-flopper. With that being said there are just certain lines that should not be crossed. I am a minority and I could care less of whether or not his grandson is black or white. You don't go after a man's family. It is an extremely low blow. I may not be as mature as everyone else here, but there is right and there is wrong. The comments made by MSNBC (commentators) were wrong. It crossed the line of what is morally correct. It is shameful.

    December 31, 2013 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  2. GOP was right

    What do you expect from MSNBC. And to think the idea of no media bias? Please, MSNBC is the lobby of the Democrats and the extreme liberals who have no clue what they are talking about.

    A puppet could give a news report on MSNBC. A goat that baaahed would have the same affect as most of those hacks. It's all crap coming out of their mouths.

    They can't stand the fact a biracial family is part of the GOP. So they rip it. God forbid if it was Obama's family with a white kid, and Glenn Beck made a borderline comment. We'd have Jesse Racist marching on Pennsylvania avenue.

    Bunch of racist pigs – MSNBC and this hack broadcaster.

    December 31, 2013 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  3. itwasntme904

    Apology should be made on air, followed swiftly by a pink slip!

    December 31, 2013 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  4. Org.Phantom

    "As black child born into large white Mormon family I feel familiarity w/ Romney family pic & never meant to suggest otherwise."

    How could a black child be BORN into a white family. How does that work?

    December 31, 2013 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  5. Name

    Some black folks are so racist but are quick to cry when they think they are victims of racism. Melissa is an excellent example this.

    December 31, 2013 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  6. R. DiBerto

    It amazes me that the White woman was offended and the Black guy was not. So we are at the point where we as whites have to offended for someone else???? Give me a break.

    December 31, 2013 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  7. Bloiter

    Contrary to what they want you to believe, some Liberals far out do Conservatives inthe 'bigot' category. You should hear some of the racist jokes or mockery coming from Libs I know.

    December 31, 2013 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  8. Monty Dean

    Right decision!
    Every white politician in today's America needs a black or Latino sponsor. Otherwise there are no future prospects for him.

    December 31, 2013 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  9. wmaceo

    Its absolutely ridiculous to create such a furor over something so insignificant. Compared to the things being said on FOX, Limbaugh, Beck, by the Tea Party in many, many of the Republican events about Obama, what his MSNBC segment said no where comparable. I'm so tired of the Democrats getting blasted for making insensitive comments, while an entire news station theme's its news on hate and denigration of the Democratic Party. Same with issues such as Weiner sending photos. He was NOT having affairs, NOT being caught in a men's restroom soliciting, NOT taking a hike down the Appalachian trail, NOT attacking Obama for "palling around with terrorists". But Weiner was tarred and feathered, while the Gov of Virginia stayed in place, Palin gets a TV show and cushy job, etc. Unbelievable double standards.

    December 31, 2013 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  10. Richard

    I havent seen an apology from Phil Robertson yet.

    December 31, 2013 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  11. Dan Britten

    Liberals are the most bigoted people I've ever known.

    December 31, 2013 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  12. goofs

    Like none of you made a snide remark before in your lives. You're lying to yourself if you say otherwise. I thought it was funny.

    December 31, 2013 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  13. Rudy NYC

    Jake

    Why is a company like Microsoft still associated with NBC?
    ------------------------
    Because it's not. They went their separate ways when Comcast took over.

    December 31, 2013 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  14. lord Kubota

    The end draws near for MHP. MSNBC was just looking to fire her... just like Bashir.

    December 31, 2013 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  15. Leland

    As part of a racially mixed family, both through adoption and though marriage, I do not find their comments offensive. MHP accurately extolled the beauty of the child and the comedians accurately pointed out the fact that this picture does, indeed, mirror the level of diversity in the Republican party: one person of color in a crowd with 22 white people. This picture is an ironic coincidence.

    The same people who are crying foul for these comments are the same who remain silent when the Tea Party throws racial epithets at our president. This is just more Palin-hypocrisy from conservatives. A sport at which they excel.

    December 31, 2013 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  16. Sam

    I have completely written off MSNBC...such comments reinforce why. Hope one day arguments are only on issues and not on race or religion.

    December 31, 2013 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  17. Guest

    the left is so jealous of Romney. He could have fixed the healthcare system. I promise you he would have actually worked nonstop as he has always done. We have a fly by night lying dictator who is good for only campaigning and golf.

    December 31, 2013 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  18. giggity

    And early Tuesday Sarah Palin weighed in! who is next in line to open his mouth? limbaugh

    December 31, 2013 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  19. Anonymous

    This is typical when Republicans don't fit the image Dems have of them.

    December 31, 2013 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  20. MarcTheDuck

    Stay classy, MSNBC...

    December 31, 2013 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  21. Dan

    I think the real offense here is the lisp we are forced to endure from the host, Melissa Harris-Perry.

    December 31, 2013 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  22. seattlelibtard

    They should mock Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt's black adopted kids too.

    December 31, 2013 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  23. tpizel

    I want to know where Jesse Jackson, the NAACP and all the liberal socialsts are on this one? Shouldn't they be crying racism, and saying these are worse statements than Rosa Parks, and calling for her firing? Shouldn't Jesse Jackson be demanding to speak to MSNBC to discuss? Hmmm, double standard.

    December 31, 2013 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  24. Grwohio

    I guess it is easy to slam the Romney family after a campaign that labeled them as horrible people. Lets see Romney had the war on women. He ruined people's lives through business acquisitions. He did not pay enough taxes.... $5 mill a year was not good enough. He was labeled a racist...oops that doesn't sound right given this article

    The behavior of the political class on both sides, and their minions in the media is disgusting. Thanks CNN for making this a headline story. We need for more people in positions of leadership to call these types of behavior out

    December 31, 2013 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  25. umley

    Melitha Harrith Perry: how about if we make fun of your lisp and ridiculous fake hair?

    December 31, 2013 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
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