January 4th, 2014
01:21 PM ET
4 years 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. Joe Casey

    That was a good apology. Ms. Perry seem genuinely sorry. I hope other liberals we're paying attention, and I hope Ms. Perry has truly learned from this and in the future will not dedicate nearly every show to denouncing republicans and white people. After awhile the whining and the continuous crying wolf gets boring.

    January 5, 2014 12:35 am at 12:35 am |
  2. Craig

    I don't know that I want to be too hard on someone who apologizes, but why don't any of these apologies ever come immediately (like...Oh my gosh, I can't believe I just said that – I'm so sorry), later that same day on the station, or at worse on the next day's show? I mean, when I realize I screwed up...I can't find a way that is fast enough for me to apologize.

    January 5, 2014 12:35 am at 12:35 am |
  3. Arrive-1

    It is refreshing to hear an honest apology and a sense of responsibility from a pundit from either side, kudos to Melisa Harris-Perry. I wish more of these, right and left, would do so like real adults. Pointing fingers at everybody else is so boring anymore. I am tired of watching both FOX and MSNBC. They both say what has sadly become so expected. Come to think of it, I am pretty tired of reading the finger pointers on these comment sites as well. So sorry that CNN is getting corrupted too by the "dumbing of America" alumni.

    January 5, 2014 12:36 am at 12:36 am |
  4. Hinkle Dinkle

    Those fake tears are ridiculous. These media zealots are playing all of you.

    January 5, 2014 12:37 am at 12:37 am |
  5. bob jones

    Sorry because it didn't work.

    January 5, 2014 12:37 am at 12:37 am |
  6. bankshotter

    Melissa Perry is soon going to join Marty Bashir in the permanent penalty box......her Tulane U colleagues are embarrassed by her actions.....she is a tenured prof for goodness sake.

    and she makes a joke about Kanye's daughter marrying the Romney grandchild?....really? and then she tries to tell us that the whole segment went in a way that she did not intend? really? David – do you believe that? what an embarrassment to NBC, huh?

    January 5, 2014 12:42 am at 12:42 am |
  7. Thomas Jefferson

    Saying the little black one was my grandchild, why didn't I think of that? Brilliant Mr. Romney!

    January 5, 2014 12:46 am at 12:46 am |
  8. Tealiban is antiAmerican

    The TEAliban only attacked her because she's black.

    January 5, 2014 12:47 am at 12:47 am |
  9. Once a Democrap now a realist

    One of these things JUST DONT BELONG HERE.....I guess liberal america really does likes aborted or neglicted black babys, over ones that will survive and prosper

    January 5, 2014 12:53 am at 12:53 am |
  10. What about the apology to Kim and Kayne

    Why did she only apologize to the Romney's, they should have been the most insulted by the comment she made.

    Who is actually insulted by this, I have not seen the Romney's make any comment about this at all. If they are not insulted whats the issue? we need to lighten up.

    January 5, 2014 12:54 am at 12:54 am |
  11. Abe Lackman

    MHP is a professor at Tulane, either Newt Gingrich needs to straighten out his alma mater or MHP can resign and sink as low as becoming a CNN coorespondent.

    January 5, 2014 12:55 am at 12:55 am |
  12. John H.

    This racist needs to be shut down.

    January 5, 2014 12:58 am at 12:58 am |
  13. jaws3119

    What about the other idiots on the panel, I guess they see no need to say anything??

    January 5, 2014 12:59 am at 12:59 am |
  14. MakesYouThink

    You should simply resign and go be the bigot that you are with the liberal left.

    January 5, 2014 01:00 am at 1:00 am |
  15. volsocal

    Crocodile tears.

    January 5, 2014 01:00 am at 1:00 am |
  16. jay

    She should be relieved of her anchor post. Period.
    It is time for MSNBC to finally be held accountable for the hacks they hire.

    January 5, 2014 01:00 am at 1:00 am |
  17. Wes

    Why are liberals so racist and hate America so much?

    January 5, 2014 01:11 am at 1:11 am |
  18. S~

    Liberals hate adoption. They love abortion.

    January 5, 2014 01:13 am at 1:13 am |
  19. Tony

    Last week, she issued a flippant, conditional apology...and now this?

    She must have either has her job threatened, or just come to the realization that she is a hateful person...

    January 5, 2014 01:14 am at 1:14 am |
  20. Shelia

    It is very sad how divided people have become...

    January 5, 2014 01:24 am at 1:24 am |
  21. Jessie lynn

    She needs to be fired for that awful lisp she has.....and those fugly dangling earrings.

    January 5, 2014 01:27 am at 1:27 am |
  22. susan

    All anchors are racists one way or the other

    January 5, 2014 01:38 am at 1:38 am |
  23. thenakedpolitico

    isn't this the same girl who appeared with tampons as earings...whats the story with that station,

    January 5, 2014 01:42 am at 1:42 am |
  24. thenakedpolitico

    isn't this the same girl who had tampons as earings? whats with this station?

    January 5, 2014 01:45 am at 1:45 am |
  25. itscion

    Typical responses from hypocritical left. You all say the exact same two or three things. Obviously you cannot think for yourself but who is publishing your talking points?

    January 5, 2014 01:45 am at 1:45 am |
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