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. elaine

    what, are ya kidding me, I hate msnbc, sick pathetic bunch. I'm waiting on the jesse jacksons, obamas and sharptons to come to the rescue of this little colored boy, he's black like yall and all, come on Obama, if ya had a son, WOULD HE LOOK LIKE GOV ROMNEY ADOPTED SON? Forgot somethink, we got to go to mars to figure that out, come on mooochelle, don't ya know what's it like to be poor and colored, come on flotus, tell us, we want to know. MSNBC suk, I hate those SOB's, all of'em, Gov Romney grandkid adopts a human being different from his race and all, and MSNBC basically call the child a "thing", really, since when did a colored boy become a "thing" and that was funny to them, really, those words makes me sick to my stomach.

    December 31, 2013 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  2. magnum12

    Progressives work at MSNBC and progessives like to make fun of anything that is religious, sacred and holy in nature. They like to demean righteousness and family values. Anything that is of good report and praiseworthy. That is the result of empty souls.

    December 31, 2013 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  3. OyrraB

    Love the MSNBC double standard...

    Had this been on the opposite foot someone would have been fired or at least suspended.

    News organization or money making marketing machine?

    December 31, 2013 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  4. jerry walters

    Oh for the love of dog, people need to grow up. Nothing said was inappropriate or offensive. Just teabgrs screaming into the wind again. For goodness sake!

    December 31, 2013 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  5. kristinaintheswich

    As the adoptive white parent of a black child, I find the broadcast remarks offensive, insensitive and simply wrong. I am not humorless, we have joked many times about our mix-and-match family. But the MSNBC bit was not good-natured or inclusive, it was intended to ridicule and demean. I'm no fan of the Romneys, but in this case, I've got their back.

    December 31, 2013 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  6. Name

    MSNBC seems to always apologizing or firing people for inappropriate comments.

    December 31, 2013 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  7. lawdog1521

    I see a kid who will grow up using "ask" instead of "axe".

    December 31, 2013 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  8. TheThinker

    The duck dynasty guy spouts an opinion and he gets canned.
    A bunch of "holier than thou" MSNBC losers make racist jokes at a baby and there is not one spec of outrage from the political Left. The "jokes" were an embarrassment.
    The fact that leftist have a free pass when they make racist gaffs is disgusting.

    December 31, 2013 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  9. LiberalBob

    Which one of these is different, a female MSNBC commentator and any pretty woman on the planet.

    December 31, 2013 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  10. VEW2012

    No Rob the right is the first to whine.

    December 31, 2013 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  11. Anonymous

    Apology? Hardly. She tweeting a half baked apology to save her job. She is still a racist, narcisist, bigotted liar. She, to this very moment, thinks what she did was hilarious. She has absolutely no regret or shame for the comments she had. The ends (ridiculing Romney) justifies the means (ridiculing a baby). It is the leftist way. This woman is a poster child for Moa's little red book. She believes that the State should raise children and that parents have no rights to their kids. She is a marxist lunatic of the highest order OR better stated she is a modern day Democrat.

    December 31, 2013 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  12. rsimcox

    Yeah, most of these flippant remarks should just be ignored.... we are far to thin-skinned these days and people make mistakes about how they phrase things. The only thing about this is that it was a "purposeful" attempt at a dig about a Mormon family adopting a black child... as if it was some kind of sham.

    December 31, 2013 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  13. @RI_Roger

    How lame can Harris be... a Twitter apology for a broadcast insult; A hash tag with her initials to help trend her to more notoriety, and lastly she follows up the initial tweet with several others and attempts to justify her actions.

    America, call for her demise in broadcasting as well as indoctrinating our college age student as a professor at a major university....America, send a message we will not tolerate this behavior any longer.

    December 31, 2013 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  14. Don Sprouse

    Paula Dean lost it all over remarks made in her past. I wonder if the same consequences will be felt here?

    December 31, 2013 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  15. BQ

    MSNBC has been an irrelevant news source as much as Fox for a very long time. This only demonstrates their callousness exceeds their irrelevance.

    December 31, 2013 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  16. Marc

    I wouldn't apologize to a thief like Mittens.

    December 31, 2013 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  17. bellaterra66

    This incident was unconscionable. I don't have much use for Mitt Romney's politics but it appears that he has a good family. And I think his son Ben and Ben's wife should be greatly commended for adopting ANY child. Besides, seriously, who cares what color a human being - especially a child - is. //// I don't watch MSNBC, and I will continue not to watch it. Ever.

    December 31, 2013 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  18. Jim

    In 20 years these same liberals will be telling that kid "You're not really black" Racism runs rampant on the far left.

    December 31, 2013 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  19. Jake321

    I am shocked, just shocked with blatant racism from Liberals on MSNBC!!! What is this world coming to???

    I did like the nice touch by one of these professional snout noses who said he apologizes and is sorry if the infant took offence to his statement...so clever.

    December 31, 2013 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  20. on streetwise

    Late Day Moses? A Biblical story follows; Pharaoh's daughter adopters Moses as her own and raise him up as an Royal Egyptian Prince, but turns against the ruling family. Hmmmmmmmmm......

    December 31, 2013 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  21. mc

    Does MSNBC want a war? They are so bullish and crude. They're not reporting news. Only socialist propaganda. They should be ashamed of their crimes against society. They're the reason I cancelled my Sirius and Satellite subscription. No money for Satan followers.

    December 31, 2013 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  22. Ted Testerson

    "really sums up the diversity of the Republican Party." Truer words were never spoken.

    December 31, 2013 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  23. happysnack

    Apology? Hardly. She tweeting a half baked apology to save her job. She is still a racist, narcisist, bigotted liar. She, to this very moment, thinks what she did was hilarious. She has absolutely no regret or shame for the comments she had. The ends (ridiculing Romney) justifies the means (ridiculing a baby). It is the leftist way. This woman is a poster child for Moa's little red book. She believes that the State should raise children and that parents have no rights to their kids. She is a marxist lunatic of the highest order OR better stated she is a modern day Democrat.

    December 31, 2013 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  24. iski

    Tony t so in your world this is OK? thanks for the comment i will stay away from your mental sewer.

    December 31, 2013 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  25. Lighten Up

    Are they auditioning for the "Sound Of Music2"?
    Looks like the VonRomney family had alot of extra curtain material.

    December 31, 2013 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
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