December 30th, 2013
05:27 PM ET
9 years 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.

[twitter-follow screen_name='politicalticker'] [twitter-follow screen_name='KilloughCNN']

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

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 (2,649 Responses)
  1. Triumph1

    Is anyone really surprised that Pia Glenn, Melissa Harris Perry and all of their black friends in Television and Hollywood did this? They are as more racist than they claim others to be. What really amazes me is how some with so little credibility continue to lead public discourse. MSNBC is becoming more tabloid like with each passing day.

    December 30, 2013 11:37 pm at 11:37 pm |
  2. Eda104

    Now now, we wouldnt want to step on anyones first amendment rights to say stupid and bigotted things would we? If Phil "duck commander" or whatever they call him from that stupid show can say anything and have Sarah Palin come rushing to his defense, then no doubt she'll be there to defend the right of these idiots for saying things too. because it would be total hypocrisy to not.

    December 30, 2013 11:37 pm at 11:37 pm |
  3. WhackyWaco

    MSNBC has a bunch of racist hypocrites working for them.

    December 30, 2013 11:38 pm at 11:38 pm |
  4. Joe Brunner

    The beauty of the outcome and facts of this story – Kieran Romney will have access to wealth, education and power that Mr. Hill and Ms. Harris-Perry would never have in their entire lives.. Like all liberals – this boils down to jealousy and ignorance.

    I'll also bet my bottom dollar that he will never have to sit around on a talk show and spout mindless drivel to idiots listening at home to pay his bills 🙂

    December 30, 2013 11:42 pm at 11:42 pm |
  5. Howard Noel

    "A case could be made for them exploiting the child by hauling out this black baby." ????????????????????? This was a family photo. the child is in the family. Don't be so disgusting.

    December 30, 2013 11:54 pm at 11:54 pm |
  6. ME

    Keeping it classy MSNBC. That station has out foxed Fox. They really are a joke.

    December 30, 2013 11:56 pm at 11:56 pm |
  7. Chuck

    Freedom of speech just like the duck guy

    December 30, 2013 11:59 pm at 11:59 pm |
  8. Kathy So

    I am defintely not a Mitt Romney fan, and am a fan of MSNBC, but this artricle is uncalled for. The Romney family is to be commended for its inclusiveness. I hope all children prosper in this environment.

    December 31, 2013 12:04 am at 12:04 am |
  9. Observer

    I dont like the comments by Melissa Harris Perry one bit. I think it's inappropriate to call out a baby and say he/she is "not like the others". That encourages racism and exclusion. When I was in college and graduate school there were many occasions where I was the only black person in class. In fact, because of the social circles I'm in now, the same thing often happens today. The LAST thing you want to hear when you're black is someone poking fun because you're the only black person in the room. Shame on Melissa Harris-Perry and MSNBC.

    December 31, 2013 12:04 am at 12:04 am |
  10. b

    So these are the hard hitting issues that the American public wants to argue about? Real journalists are too few these days.

    December 31, 2013 12:09 am at 12:09 am |
  11. tncheesehead

    Will this get the attention of the Duck Dynasty interview? In my opinion this is worse – how do we allow the media to laugh at this with no consequence?

    December 31, 2013 12:10 am at 12:10 am |
  12. jod

    Disgusting bigots. CNN should distance itself from Dean Obeidallah

    December 31, 2013 12:18 am at 12:18 am |
  13. fredDFW

    Have never seen or heard of this show. Guess I have not missed anything of value.

    December 31, 2013 12:18 am at 12:18 am |
  14. Mark

    Apparently the republican party is now the one accepting of interracial families

    December 31, 2013 12:21 am at 12:21 am |
  15. brian

    Some of these "news" clowns need to go back to grade school.

    December 31, 2013 12:26 am at 12:26 am |
  16. lynch

    when i read that someone says, "lack of racial diversity at the republican national convention" indicates to me that they aren't very informed nor did they watch any of the rnc broadcasts. hello liberal world, the republican party consists of whites, African-americans, women, Hispanics, rich, middle class & poor people. to the liberals, I would say instead of 'buying into' what your friends are saying or what you read/hear from the liberal media, do a little research on your own.

    December 31, 2013 12:27 am at 12:27 am |
  17. Katherine

    Not funny. They should be ashamed.

    Watching FOX or MSNBC is a huge waste of time unless you want to hear lies, mud-slinging and a whole lot of B.S.

    December 31, 2013 12:28 am at 12:28 am |
  18. dirksterdude

    Neither the jokes nor the fact that the baby was adopted should really be news in the first place. No one cares if one of my siblings adopts a baby. I think people live in so much fear of saying the wrong thing - that they say the wrong thing (for them). I don't consider anything said about the baby to even be the wrong thing. I doubt that they feel they went too far, but does anyone really believe they were making racist instead of innocent comments about the baby or the apology if they truly went too far is even sincere?

    December 31, 2013 12:33 am at 12:33 am |
  19. Peter

    As a proud liberal, I have to say that these people at MSNBC are morons. Liberals do not attack people, they attack ideas. Mitt Romney's ideas are horrible for this country, but I am proud of him sitting in that photograph showing the same amount of love for the black baby as he is showing all of his grandchildren. Good for you Mr. and Mrs. Romney. This country needs more love like the one you are so proudly showing in this photograph. Right now, I am more proud of you than any of the idiots at MSNBC.

    December 31, 2013 12:35 am at 12:35 am |
  20. Matty Matt

    Those are funny jokes, why do people have to be so offended? People take life way to seriously

    December 31, 2013 12:38 am at 12:38 am |
  21. Glenn

    Ive been listening to hate spewed from the radio talking hateters all day, including personal attacks on Democrat congressmen and women. . Love the fake out rage that comes from the right.. it hypocritical and just down right propaganda.Critisism of MSNBC from the right is just laughable.

    December 31, 2013 12:42 am at 12:42 am |
  22. Rod

    As a white grandfather with a Chinese adopted granddaughter and neices and nepthews of several different ethnic backgrounds I find these types of jokes totally out of bounds. They are from the stone age.

    December 31, 2013 12:47 am at 12:47 am |
  23. Barry Lane

    Smug and arrogant and unattractive to boot. No wonder very few watch that lousy channel.

    December 31, 2013 12:47 am at 12:47 am |
  24. Barbara

    Making fun of a baby! Shameful...

    December 31, 2013 12:48 am at 12:48 am |
  25. Dr E

    This is news? Really?

    December 31, 2013 12:52 am at 12:52 am |
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