January 4th, 2014
01:21 PM ET
10 months ago

MSNBC host offers tearful apology to Romneys

Updated 1:49 p.m., 1/4/2014

(CNN) - MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry made a tearful apology to Mitt Romney’s family on her show Saturday, after she and a panel poked fun at a photo of the former Republican presidential candidate with his wife and 21 grandchildren by zeroing in on his adopted African-American grandson.

"Whatever the intent was, the reality is that the segment proceeded in a way that was offensive, and showing the photo in that context, of that segment, was poor judgment. So without reservation or qualification, I apologize to the Romney family," said the anchor at the open of her show, "Melissa Harris-Perry."


Harris-Perry became emotional as she went on to apologize to all "other families formed through transracial adoption," saying, "I am deeply sorry that we suggested that interracial families are in any way funny or deserving of ridicule."

She highlighted her own interracial background, as the daughter of an African-American man and a white Mormon woman. But, she said, families are always "off limits," and the Romneys' grandchildren should never have been a topic of discussion.

"Adults who enter into public life implicitly consent to having less privacy. But their families, and especially their children, should not be treated callously or thoughtlessly. My intention was not malicious, but I broke the ground rule that families are off limits, and for that I am sorry," she said.

Harris-Perry first apologized on Twitter and MSNBC's website Tuesday, offering a similar mea culpa "without reservation or qualification."

During the segment last Sunday, Harris-Perry asked a panel to come up with a caption for the Romney family photo, and two panelists made jokes about the infant standing out.

Actress Pia Glenn began singing lines from the song popularized by Sesame Street, "One of These Things Is Not Like the Others." 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" and joked that in 2040 he would marry North West, the daughter of Kanye West and Kim Kardashian.

"Can you imagine Mitt Romney and Kanye West as in-laws?" she said, to laughs.

Criticism was swift across social media, with prominent Republicans from Sarah Palin to former Sen. Scott Brown weighing in.

A spokeswoman for Romney told CNN he was on a family vacation this week and unavailable for comment. On Sunday, Romney will appear on “Fox News Sunday,” where he is likely to be asked about the episode.

MSNBC has been in some hot water recently after a handful of their hosts have made controversial comments. Alec Baldwin and the network parted ways in November after his homophobic outburst against photographers, and Martin Bashir resigned in December for his suggestion that Sarah Palin deserved graphic punishment for comparing U.S. foreign debt to slavery.

–CNN's Ashley Killough contributed to this report.


Filed under: Mitt Romney • MSNBC
soundoff (1,178 Responses)
  1. MC

    Why is this a story? BREAKING NEWS: MSNBC or FoxNews Anchor says something stupid/insensitive. If you are tired of these anchors, stop watching their networks or reading articles about them.

    January 4, 2014 11:04 pm at 11:04 pm |
  2. JacinJax

    She was wrong for the whole segment but the fact that she immediately stepped up and said she was wrong shows her integrity. There were no excuses or "it was just a joke" as others have been known to do.

    January 4, 2014 11:06 pm at 11:06 pm |
  3. 60sSpiderman

    I wonder how different things would be if the Obama family adopted a white child..

    January 4, 2014 11:09 pm at 11:09 pm |
  4. Tony T

    Phony tears like the fake a fraud she is....the only reason she is crying is because she came real close to losing her job. She should be fired any conservative host would already be on the "bread line".

    January 4, 2014 11:09 pm at 11:09 pm |
  5. Kanye West

    I would not want that baby marrying my kid

    January 4, 2014 11:10 pm at 11:10 pm |
  6. Namemarcia Monroe

    Shameful. After all of the sick racist comments I see on a DAILY BASIS by people who adore Romney, It's a DOWN RIGHT JOKE that you hypocrites are even "ANGRY?" You have to be kidding me!!!

    January 4, 2014 11:15 pm at 11:15 pm |
  7. clyve

    So this makes how many times msnbc has apologized????? This is by far the closest case you will ever see to state controlled tv. They are more like the korean run media.

    January 4, 2014 11:16 pm at 11:16 pm |
  8. Mac

    Now if Don Imus made comedy like this he would be fired AGAIN Why should this bimbo get a pass ?

    January 4, 2014 11:16 pm at 11:16 pm |
  9. life5678

    She needs to join Paula Dean in the unemployment line. She is a demented racist. MSNBC already has a reputation of supporting this type of behavior, they need to clean up their act in a hurry.

    January 4, 2014 11:16 pm at 11:16 pm |
  10. phil trigg

    She thought it was real funny at the time. How ironic that now that her job may be jeopardy it is BOO HOO! Her comments were highly insutlng. FIRE HER!

    January 4, 2014 11:16 pm at 11:16 pm |
  11. zenreaper

    So lets see, old WHITE lady loses a COOKING show, because 40 years ago she used the "n" word. Romney loses votes because he said that 47% of the population that paid NO income tax would not relate to a platform that focusses on cutting income tax. Phil Robertson simply quotes from the Christian book that EVERY President since Washington has claimed to believe in, and has been sworn in on (I believe some used a different book, but MOST Presidents are sworn in using the bible). This woman makes an OBVIOUSLY racial joke, and an APOLOGY gets her her show back and SYMPATHY from you losers? How about some STANDARD RULES for journalism...like DON'T BE A RACIST.

    January 4, 2014 11:17 pm at 11:17 pm |
  12. life5678

    She needs to join Paula Dean in the unemployment line. She is a raging racist. MSNBC already has a reputation of supporting this type of behavior, they need to clean up their act in a hurry.

    January 4, 2014 11:17 pm at 11:17 pm |
  13. Monomachos

    Did I get this right? A woman who has a black father and a white mother who was raised in what she calls a "big Mormon family" thought it would be hilarious to poke fun at a large Mormon family that had just become biracial. Hmmm. I gotta say that she really didn't think that through very well.

    January 4, 2014 11:17 pm at 11:17 pm |
  14. life5678

    She needs to join Paula Dean in the unemployment line. MSNBC already has a reputation of supporting this type of behavior, they need to clean up their act in a hurry.

    January 4, 2014 11:17 pm at 11:17 pm |
  15. Mark

    Get the racist off the air and out of our lives. Terrible journalist

    January 4, 2014 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm |
  16. American666

    This is another racist Republican flex of muscle, power and influence. Melissa Harris-Perry did not do anything wrong. However, Blacks and Democrats are pushed to a higher standard of civility than Republicans and it's hard to combat this hypocrisy acting like Jesus when Republicans emulate Judas. We live in a time when the President of the United States and his family is ridiculed by elected Republican representatives on the daily without apology. A time when the government has shut down rather than support any actions by a black president, even those actions suggested by Republicans. Welcome to the life of a Black American on the daily. It is this white hatred that drives blacks to exhibit anti-social behavior.

    January 4, 2014 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
  17. Lee

    She definitely needs to be fired.... Now let's see who's racist!!

    January 4, 2014 11:20 pm at 11:20 pm |
  18. DeniB

    Is anyone gonna comment on her lisp? Who cares what she says.

    January 4, 2014 11:22 pm at 11:22 pm |
  19. Eric

    She sells seashells down by the seashore

    January 4, 2014 11:23 pm at 11:23 pm |
  20. Alfranken1

    They were joking so what - both extremists on the left and right are jerks anyhow

    January 4, 2014 11:23 pm at 11:23 pm |
  21. Publius

    Why so long before offering the apology? Did she take acting lessons to tear up at the appropriate time? I never will know if this apology is from the heart or not. I can hope it is, and that the next time someone else speaks ill towards a GOP family relation, she will jump down their throats with the utmost indignity, as she might if a conservative spoke in similar tones towards a liberal. I realize this may be too much to ask any liberal.

    January 4, 2014 11:24 pm at 11:24 pm |
  22. Kris

    That's it, end to the little bit of MSNBC I've been watching. Always apologies. nonsense!

    January 4, 2014 11:27 pm at 11:27 pm |
  23. Barbara w

    Ridiculous! Another example of a double standard. The Robertsons and Deens are crucified and this black chick gets to say she will play nice and keep her job. Amazing

    January 4, 2014 11:27 pm at 11:27 pm |
  24. Sherman

    Yeah. We believe ya.

    January 4, 2014 11:27 pm at 11:27 pm |
  25. Jacob

    MHP is an imbecile. She defends NSA spying & is a horrible host.

    January 4, 2014 11:28 pm at 11:28 pm |
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