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. The bigoted left shows their true colors (again)

    The real bigots and racists in this country are the left. They have the racism of low expectations (anyone who isn't a white male can't succeed without assistance), the racism of pandering to voting blocks based on ethnicity, and the overt racist history that the Democrats, not the Republicans, are the party of Jim Crow. MLK and Lincoln were Republicans, and the party that made Colin Powell, and then Condolence Rice, Sec State, because they were QUALIFIED, not because of quotas or electoral calculus, was the Republican Party.
    But beyond that, the left are mean nasty, and intolerant to anyone who doesn't toe the party line. It is the LEFT that are the knee-jerk bigots in this country.

    December 31, 2013 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
  2. R.Williams

    I wonder how many people condemning this also condemned Rush Limbaugh for saying this about Chelsea Clinton adopting an African baby:

    "So, Chelsea decided to adopt a child from Africa because of her father’s bad heart and Hillary, her mother, fell down. Nothing to do with the fact that this is the latest fashion accessory for elite liberals – particularly of the Hollywood variety.”

    December 31, 2013 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
  3. ChrisM

    Another fake scandal for all the rwnj sheep to baaaaaaaaaaa about.

    December 31, 2013 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
  4. some people

    Some people make a big deal out of it. Most could care less. To some its so normal to see a different color skin at the supper table that its odd when other people notice.

    December 31, 2013 09:08 pm at 9:08 pm |
  5. some people

    I'm amazed that some people can handle life at all. The simplest concepts throw them.

    December 31, 2013 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
  6. BBunsen

    "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.' "

    I'm sorry, Stuart, I thought at first you were talking about Fox News.

    December 31, 2013 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  7. suziebnh

    Okay, I am a republican, voted for Romney, live in N.H. (we have very few minorities) BUT, I would support any person of color becoming a part of my family, my brother is gay and I could care less and while I dislike Obama, again, I could care less that he is black. Those of you who regurgitate the liberal mantra of Republicans hating blacks, gays, etc is pure garbage. Most of us are fiscal conservatives; believe in the saying "give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and you feed him for life" We expect people to be honest, work hard, pay taxes. I'm the first to help those in need (have been a nurse for 25 years) but I don't want to help you if you are cheating the system, not working if you are able-bodied or make disparaging remarks about anyone in the military. MSNBC should just shut out the lights and close the door....good-bye MSNBC.

    December 31, 2013 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  8. Rosie Leal

    The Romney s are looking into the future. Smart move.

    December 31, 2013 09:26 pm at 9:26 pm |
  9. Jonus Grumby

    This would be an issue if anyone watched MSNBC. The last I checked the Nielson ratings, they had slightly more viewers than the Tomato Channel.

    December 31, 2013 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  10. CillWhitie

    Good she appologized, but where is Jessie and Al on this?

    December 31, 2013 09:29 pm at 9:29 pm |
  11. Poo_PRomeney

    I hate Romeny

    December 31, 2013 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  12. Rich

    Bullies think that making fun of people who are different falls under the "It's just a joke" category, totally ignorant that statements made "in fun" can do tremendous damage. Sometimes I think that being purposesly malicious versus hurtfully ignorant is the lesser of two evils, because at least if you are aware of your destructive actions, then it is by choice. Being unaware means one has sociopathic tendencies.

    December 31, 2013 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
  13. Rosie Leal

    I love America

    December 31, 2013 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
  14. Ed FL

    Can't imagine the Romney's will try anything to draw attention to their CLAN. He has become the Major clown in that circus of theirs.

    December 31, 2013 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  15. joebidennNo1

    he must be planning to run for president in 2016

    December 31, 2013 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  16. Just

    Doing the lib thing. Do as I say not as I do.

    December 31, 2013 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  17. Givemeabreak

    There must be a shortage of news stories if MSNBC needed to go digging through a politician's Christmas photos to find news. The photo was not newsworthy and neither were the comments the anchor made about the photo. Next!

    December 31, 2013 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  18. timothyf7

    If the situation was reversed, and it was a black family with a whit child... All Hell would break lose. Everyone of the journalist would be fired. Sharpton would be in the front office demanding immediate action. But because it someone that the Network dislikes, "Nothing" will be done. They said that they were sorry and that closes it. They weren't making fun of the child – they were making fun of everyone else in the picture... the child's generous family. Funny how everyone wants equality until it actually means "equal!" treatment.

    December 31, 2013 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  19. Fredjax65

    I viewed the program and it was funny. I'm positive if Professor Harris-Perry would've sat down and try think of all of the ways (Faux) News would try to spin this segment she would've chosen a different route. Nobody has stood up for Women's Rights, Children, The Middle Class, The Working Poor, The Homeless and the Disable more than Professor Melissa Harris-Perry. It proves once again that the Right Wing News media can say anything without any fact checking first. Oh I'm sorry I forgot the phrase "Fact Checking" is taboo in their world. What a shame to anyone who has jumped on the bandwagon of fools. But then again whenever a news feed pops up "The Troll Convention is sure to follow." If you watched that segment on MHP show in it's entirety and truly believe she went out of her way to offend the Romney's. Well, my suggestion for you is to stop watching any other news programming and tune into "liars and friends" for your morning shot of fantasy land then continue into the weeee hours of the following morning with "I'm a better liar than you are" with your continued delusions of grandeur.

    December 31, 2013 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  20. Cousar John

    Everybody cry Freedom of Speech.

    December 31, 2013 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm |
  21. Ron

    Thank you to the family who open their hearts to a child of need. We lead by example and this is what it is all about. Go Romneys!

    December 31, 2013 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  22. Hope

    MSNBC has disgusting hosts and they never do anything about them when they offend people.

    December 31, 2013 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  23. Confederate Cash

    Harris Perry should be fired from Tulane for this racially charged highly offensive comments about a defenseless baby.....
    The anti American leftists have stooped to a pathetic new low!!!

    December 31, 2013 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  24. Jakinak

    in the echo chamber that Mess NBC has become, this was inevitable.

    December 31, 2013 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
  25. slim j

    the fact that 98 pages are dedicated to this slip of the tongue just shows UK people how sad Americans have become, she apologized which says she messed up.

    But 1 little word from a talking head not even a politician remember .. a talking head ?

    can be magnified for political tit tat ... so sad America get a grip. GET A GRIP or A life ?

    December 31, 2013 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |
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