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. hkirwin


    The biggest racist is the one that constantly calls people racist. It's on their radar so much they can't help but see the world in black, white and brown.

    On another note I'm going to make an observation, wow! That's a lot of kids!!! With the matching shirts and dresses, they look like clones!

    Great example of hypocracy.

    December 31, 2013 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  2. hkirwin


    Did you watch the program. She seemed to be complimenting families who adopt children, especially those of mixed or other races. The right wing turned a positive into another fabricated insult and the allegations were picked up by CNN which seems more and more to be FOX like and not check facts, evidence, or investigate truth. Shame on CNN for again misreporting by putting another false scandal via allegation into the conservative ethosphere and not reporting factually, accurately and objectively after verifying the "story."

    This person would view a late term abortion as a mercy killing.

    December 31, 2013 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  3. nash

    Its not like they play spot the black kid in the picture

    December 31, 2013 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  4. Periksen

    This is equal to some of the comments commonly heard on FOX and it makes us look just as bad! She should be fired. This is unacceptable

    December 31, 2013 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  5. patricia primm

    when will network news outlets hire individuals with brains AND common sense – when will we ever look at each other as fellow human beings who are a part of the collective – when will we start looking at each other through loving eyes......2014 would be a good start.......Blessing to all and a Happy New Year!!

    December 31, 2013 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  6. Jerry

    Another hateful fool-ect ect on msnbc-–please all botcott their sponsors

    December 31, 2013 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  7. Modupe Sarratt

    I am proud of Mitt Romney showing us we all need to make a change, our lives is about extending our loves. I am hopeful that the future is going to be better in 2014. 2014 is about extending loves to accommodate others.

    December 31, 2013 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  8. Joe from Kalispell

    If she wasn't a woman of color she would have been suspended for making a racist remark.

    December 31, 2013 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  9. EdL

    MSNBC is a loser, for losers.

    December 31, 2013 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  10. Mike Weston

    Unfortunately, this is how journalism has transformed into something that should not be protected under the First Amendment. More and more media are becoming shills for an administration that is beginning to resemble that of North Korea's media. You can claim it's not state run, but look at all the stories that misleadingly report the truth. Not good for democracy and a disservice to America....when we fall, journalists need to be the first ones people should go after.

    December 31, 2013 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  11. aj

    she should be fired, they should all be fired

    December 31, 2013 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  12. Bee lade

    Wha wha what?

    A black person no longer able to insults whites and being labeled racist? Is this the end times?

    Ignorant little spoiled girl trying to make a black kid getting a good home a bad thing? What cause we are black we need the fake getto and "hard" life that really only exists in the minds of the entitled?

    December 31, 2013 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  13. Anonymous

    Am I missing something!!?? What is the BIG DEAL? SENSITIVE SHEESSSH

    December 31, 2013 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  14. John Sullivan

    Conservatives once again demonstrate their belief that only scraggly-looking right wing white Southerners have 1st Amendment rights.

    They can all duck off.

    December 31, 2013 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  15. J

    Truly ridiculous. Who do they think they are?

    December 31, 2013 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  16. Scott

    MSNBC has become the most mean-spirited station...

    December 31, 2013 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  17. SillyKat

    The worst offenders are outraged at the least? Remember, these are the Obama haters who have never expressed one iota of outrage at the blatant racism and hatred festering for years. And Sarah Palin...gross in every conceivable way. Be quiet and just go home already.

    December 31, 2013 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  18. Namemichael

    She should be fired.

    December 31, 2013 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  19. MarkinBrandon

    She was taking a cheap, racist shot at Mitt Romney and I hope she gets fired. That will never happen with MSNBC , but would with any reputable network.

    December 31, 2013 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  20. EdL

    Melissa is wrong. She did not 'degrade their lives or choices'. She degraded herself, exposed herself. Saying she is sorry is a laugh. As is customary and so successful, she should instead say, "I accept full responsibility" for my misdeed. This clever statement removes her from any blame, the incident is forgotten, forgiven, and she would then receive blessing for her taking responsibility for what she said.

    December 31, 2013 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  21. Damon Montano

    It's pretty sad to see conservative Christians with such huge families. Luckily, the education system may have a chance in turning them from the dark side as they grow older.

    December 31, 2013 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  22. Sandra

    Oh for pity's sake. What is it about MSNBC that if anyone crosses their eyes at someone, they're either forced to apologize, or they get fired? She was complimenting the Romney's, not insulting them. You want to see people getting insulted with bigoted remarks, go watch FAUX Noise.

    December 31, 2013 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  23. Tucker

    Their initial lack of understanding of how offensive their comments were reveals their double standard and belief in their own ability to do no wrong. Since we are supposed to accept their protestations that their intentions were honorable, i assume that they will give the same presumption of good intentions to people whose comments they do not like.

    December 31, 2013 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  24. Seriously?

    Wow – Perry apologized for the segment and CNN still devotes a segment to this non-story. Where are the segments regarding Fox News racist, bigoted, zenophobic bias and their obvious disdain or the lower class of our country? There are no apologies from their people and they say farrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr worse and with intent.

    December 31, 2013 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  25. truthduke

    liberals are race obsessed

    December 31, 2013 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
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