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. hawkeye2009

    Perhaps more blacks would show up at Repubs get togethers if they were shunned and mocked by their liberal brethren.

    December 31, 2013 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  2. HL

    They don't even qualify as a network anymore. This is typical for how they operate.

    December 31, 2013 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  3. 66rock

    They did not make jokes about the child. They were making fun of Romney, no harm done. The only thing that surprises me is that they didn't have this baby pop up last year during the election as the token baby.

    December 31, 2013 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  4. thewookie

    She is garbage. I am maybe a bit right of center but it's gotten to the point I can't even stand to turn on MSNBC (same goes for FOX BTW). It seems to have gone right over the liberal cliff immediately after the Microsoft affiliation ended. Trash, whether right or left wing, is TRASH JUST THE SAME.

    December 31, 2013 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  5. Debra Stinchcomb

    I highly doubt she would have said/done the same episode if it had been a black family with a white adopted child. This was, at best, in incredibly poor taste. As an adoptive mother of two children, I am saddened that children can become a target like this. This is nothing more than bullying at it's best. It shows her for who she truly is; a HUGE racist. As usual, the people shouting racism are the biggest racists. Sad.

    December 31, 2013 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  6. TiredofSilly1

    If any TV personality made a comment like that about a libtard family, they'd be drawn and quartered. That tramp should have half as lovely a family as the Romneys.

    December 31, 2013 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  7. Dean

    MSNBC – racist, hating organization.

    December 31, 2013 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  8. sharinlite

    MSNBC does the best racist, bigoted, hate mongering in the industry...the folks they hire have to be hateful to begin with because decent folk would never say the trash talk they spew. Disgusting...no apology necessary because you don't mean it and we know it. Sick and Sad....and Zuker says he want to make CNN more like MSNBC? Please....

    December 31, 2013 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  9. joe

    CNN will become MSNBC within 3 years

    December 31, 2013 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  10. robert

    Mainstream educated America realized long ago that liberals, with their socialist, "keep the black man locked into welfare and thus win his vote...." politics are the real racists in America.

    December 31, 2013 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  11. hammer48

    Is anyone really surprised? These people are driven by hate. They will try to ruin you if you disagree with them.

    December 31, 2013 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  12. Jeff

    Fire her......EOM

    December 31, 2013 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  13. TexDoc

    Why does anyone ever watch MSNBC? You could simply log on to the White House Web site or any of Obama's political action committee's and get the same misinformation.

    December 31, 2013 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  14. Sam

    You can see the evil and hate in Harris-Perry 's eyes.

    December 31, 2013 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  15. Dr. Akhter

    Suspend Ms. Perry

    December 31, 2013 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  16. MakeItStop22

    That poor baby. No child should ever be brought into a home already having a job. This child's job is to make grandpa look like a better person. Ain't gonna happen Mitt.

    December 31, 2013 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  17. Sara

    Melissa Harris-Perry, she's nothing more than another black racist! trying to get rating for her show. "A racist profit"

    December 31, 2013 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  18. Sara

    A Black Profiteer, was what I meant to say.

    December 31, 2013 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  19. njudgemental

    There are many comparisons of Melissa Harris’ hateful comments to those of Phil Robertson. Nether were in good taste, but the primary differences are that Melissa continued to believe that her hateful comments were ok until the public outcry became overwhelming and the hateful comments were directed at one person, Rommey. Phil did not double down on his comments and they were not directed at any one person. Its clear that Melissa’s hateful comments were sincere and from her inter feelings about other races. The only way she will be able to change is to get fired from MSNBC and freshly restart her career.

    December 31, 2013 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  20. scootfl78

    Republicans have been making fun of America for decades and CNN only shows outrage when its the Republicans picked on instead.

    December 31, 2013 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  21. jat3clove

    I think all the people coming after MHP for her comments about that beautiful baby ought to take their own advice and lean toward kindness and mutual respect. MHP has apologized and it appears to be sincere. Of the people in this story, she is one best able to understand the special challenges awaiting this African baby adopted into a Caucasian family. Her comments were public and broadly heard and unkind. What Keiran may face in the years to come will be private but mean spirited and hurtful - not unlike what MHP has faced and candidly what the President faces with the atrocious monkey and savage images superimposed on his and the first lady's faces daily at rallies and online. "Come out with your hands up." Really? "Put down that Koran!" said some idiot standing right next to Cruz and Palin. Did they express any outrage. "Go back to Africa/Kenya!" That's said all the time. Making hurtful comments is unacceptable across the board. If you know you do it, or you weren't outraged and outspoken when you saw others do it to the president, don't act upset now. You're simply using this as a way to vent and deflect.

    December 31, 2013 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  22. KLB

    First, I did see the segment anyone who says she was praising adoptive families is an idiot. Second, the segment was not funny and the people on should not call themselves comedians. NONE OF THEM WERE FUNNY!!! The segment on a whole was stupid and whoever thought that was funny, should not be in the news business.

    December 31, 2013 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  23. noteasilyswayed

    Seems to me that those who are in a public forum should have learned by now that making "politically incorrect" wise cracks about anybody or anything will result in public condemnation in the social media forums and blogs.

    December 31, 2013 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  24. haddock

    And the liberal take on this is.... uncool. Leave the families alone. Apology is warranted.

    December 31, 2013 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  25. constitutional believer

    I wonder what Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, Rev Jesse Jackson and Rev Al Sharpton make of Ms. Harris-Perry's comments.

    December 31, 2013 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
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