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. calvin

    she should lose her affirmative placed joblet, racist anchor

    January 4, 2014 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  2. ObamaCares!

    This was no big deal, and TOTALLY overblown!
    When is Genocide George going to apologize??

    January 4, 2014 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  3. VoteForPedro

    Difference between MSNBC and FOX?
    MSNBC apologies for transgressions & insults.

    January 4, 2014 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  4. Anonymous

    She cried crocodile tears while the MSNBC band played on.

    January 4, 2014 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  5. martin

    You MSNBC cowards are just that a bunch of RACIST COWARDS, so making fun of that beautiful little baby Romney is hplding is gutless and the work of disgusting Cowards...

    January 4, 2014 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  6. Not surprised

    MSNBC – Main Stream Nasty Bull Chit. Not even slightly surprised by this. The left has been getting away with this vilification and racism for a very long time. No one with any sense at all takes these people seriously anymore. Too much koolaid burns brain cells... Even a tiny baby is not off limits for the radical, obnoxious, and abusive left. You should all be ashamed of yourselves!

    January 4, 2014 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  7. Bradley Olsen

    So why do you really think the Romney's bought a black baby? Get real.

    January 4, 2014 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  8. Cary Grant

    "Progressives" are hypocritical losers.

    January 4, 2014 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  9. david

    we all know why the romneys got the black baby ssshhhhhh

    January 4, 2014 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  10. Gort1

    Too little too late...fire her and move on.

    January 4, 2014 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  11. david

    when you guys fire duck dynasty, she will lose her job...

    January 4, 2014 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  12. ultimix

    so, when does she get fired?

    January 4, 2014 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  13. EARL THEROUX

    She'll probably get a big raise from MSNBC.

    January 4, 2014 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  14. Azzy

    Of course it won't be enough for the right wing outrage machine, who scream racism from one side of their mouths while blowing the dog whistle in the other.

    January 4, 2014 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  15. middle america man

    Where were all of you with you racial sensitivity when your friends attacked the President and his family on racial grounds the past several years? Save the complaints.

    January 4, 2014 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  16. Not surprised

    Sickening. This is a nice family and the left has no self control at all. Even babies are picked on by these people. Remember Sarah Palin's disabled son? People like these on MSNBC are sick folks.

    January 4, 2014 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  17. Thomas

    On a planet that is overpopulated , why do they have , 5 sons and 20 grandkids ?

    January 4, 2014 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  18. barbarianofgor

    Sick that she has to apologize about saying anything about the LOSER Romney.
    I'll say something good, though... At least the $ from SOME of the Families he's destroyed by sending jobs overseas is going to feed and shelter innocent children, his own at least.

    January 4, 2014 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  19. reasonbyfaith

    A conservative would have been fired.

    January 4, 2014 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  20. JW

    She did the right thing by apologizing.

    January 4, 2014 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  21. Jeremy Vaile

    She had no reason to apologize.
    Ever hear of the biological S-Curve?
    Every top predator has followed the same population growth curve. They start off with few, and resources everywhere–with no predator of their own. Then their population explodes into vertical growth, then it tops off and flat lines–just like an S. It flat lines because there are too many of them for too few resources.
    The human population has more than doubled from 4 billion to over 8 billion right now (in the last 30 years!)
    What do you imagine life to be like at the top of that s-curve??
    Thank you Mitt (and the rest of the Mormon's/Catholics.)
    Thank you mexico (and every other 3rd world, agrarian culture that just luuuuves their familia and wants as many "new American" babies as possible.)
    That's ok though.
    You'll have a lot more grandkids to suffer what this world will be like than I will.
    I have 2 kids (1 from each wife.) THEN I had a vasectomy!

    At this point in the human population growth, if you are pumping out more than 2-3 kids, I really think it should be law that you are required (by force if necessary) to get sterilized!

    It truly is for the greater good.

    In 100 years, it'll be illegal to have a kid without it being your turn. China has been trying to curb their population growth–notice how there are Chinese in any country/vacation spot you go to?

    1 out of every 8 people is Chinese...

    If you can't see this coming, you are simply blind and dumb.

    January 4, 2014 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  22. Steve

    Very sad how divided our country has become. The time is coming when conservatives will move to red states and liberals will move to blue states and all states will fight with Washington and each other. I don't see how any of this ends well for us....

    January 4, 2014 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  23. DeepeThought

    People make mistakes. Forgive and (try to) forget.
    .
    But this never would have happened if liberals were not hell bent on degrading anything and everything the is conservative.

    January 4, 2014 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  24. justinbeeber

    First off, Mitt didn't adopt the baby, one of his kids did. Second off, to suggest he did it for votes is stupid, because if that was the purpose, don't you think they would have sent out that portrait a year ago when he was running for office? Third off, if Mitt wanted votes, it ould have been a Latin baby, he wasn't going to win the black vote....you people are crazy, dumb or both

    January 4, 2014 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  25. Hoe

    She said "I'm thorry" he, he.

    January 4, 2014 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
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