December 30th, 2013
05:27 PM ET
8 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. NameCharles Hawkins

    Let me get this strait, only the stars of Duck Dynasty are allowed free speech?

    December 31, 2013 12:53 am at 12:53 am |
  2. Motley

    MSNBC and the far left,.. hypocrisy, racism, hate abound

    December 31, 2013 12:58 am at 12:58 am |
  3. Pam Horton

    I am disgusted with this panel and their treatment of the Romney family. Pia Glenn especially needs to answer up and be taken off any future panels. Just a plain apology is not enough. This is serious and the panel needs to be held accountable.
    How was this even allowed to be aired?

    December 31, 2013 01:01 am at 1:01 am |
  4. Will Rodgers

    Marc Lamont Hill, you just proved how stupid liberals have gotten. You'll say anything and defend anything from the left. What was done on MSNBC was just wrong. Period. Black baby, white baby, yellow baby, whatever. The world seems to grow more heartless every day, and it's mostly because we continue to increase the speed and volume in which crap flows from the media into our minds, hearts and souls. And the worst part of it is that the spewing is from so-called intellectuals or what we pass off as intelligentsia these days. Sad.

    December 31, 2013 01:08 am at 1:08 am |
  5. Thomas

    Bad Taste !

    "really sums up the diversity of the Republican Party." is not far off though.

    December 31, 2013 01:09 am at 1:09 am |
  6. fallujah_baby

    Fire the offenders immediately. Hate of any kind doesn't belong on the "news."

    December 31, 2013 01:13 am at 1:13 am |
  7. Incredulous

    Yeas, you won't here anything from the Sharpton's or Jackson's on this money in it for them.

    December 31, 2013 01:20 am at 1:20 am |
  8. Brian

    Had the same comments been made by anyone else, msnbc would have a field day condemning the racists.

    December 31, 2013 01:20 am at 1:20 am |
  9. Eileen

    So, if this comment was made about a white child adopted into a family of African American heritage, what would the response be by a thoughtless media commentator? Something to ponder. The fault lies with the very first person who felt there was even a remote need to comment on the Romney family photo. We will continue to struggle as long as we see the human family in different colors. I'm just so sorry the response could not have simply been, "What a nice family photo. Happy Holidays!"

    December 31, 2013 01:27 am at 1:27 am |
  10. SammFan

    Bizarre that Ms. Harris-Perry would joke about a kid being adopted for the same reasons she was hired by MSNBC (?)

    December 31, 2013 01:29 am at 1:29 am |
  11. just one American

    And these are the same people who wanted to crucify the duck dynasty guy for expressing his personal observations about the black people he worked with as a very young man? Now they're making fun of a black child in a white family? Really? The liberal democrat version of tolerance doesn't seem to involve any actual tolerance for anybody except liberal democrats.

    December 31, 2013 01:29 am at 1:29 am |
  12. Bill Davis

    Many people make fun of MSNBC,

    December 31, 2013 01:30 am at 1:30 am |
  13. Harry V

    There was nothing wrong with the comments. There is obviously a severe lack of diversity in the Republican Party that needs to be corrected if they want to stay relevant and it is heavily ironic that this disgraceful family has adopted an African-American child.

    December 31, 2013 01:32 am at 1:32 am |
  14. Stephen

    These kind of articles rely upon illiterates reading. Neither Melissa nor any of her guests said anything bad or derogatory about the Romneys or the child. But, needles to say, those incapable of thinking for themselves created their own facts about what happened in the segment on Melissa's show.

    December 31, 2013 01:33 am at 1:33 am |
  15. Stephen

    These kind of articles rely upon illiterates reading. Neither Melissa nor any of her guests said anything bad or derogatory about the Romneys or the child. But, needles to say, those incapable of thinking for themselves created their own facts about what happened in the segment on Melissa's show.

    December 31, 2013 01:34 am at 1:34 am |
  16. Stephen

    What's even more hilarious is that a bunch of the folks commenting are accusing Melissa of being anti-white when she is herself half white with both black siblings and a white sibling. You have been hoodwinked. And it was so easy.

    December 31, 2013 01:36 am at 1:36 am |
  17. Stan Carter

    MSNBC is hate TV. CNN, you have got to up your game. CNN should be able wipe the floor with these punks. Rather than eliminating your news improve you production standards with the talent you already have. MSNBC is produced extremely well but their people are awful. You have the opposite problem. Do better guys!

    December 31, 2013 01:36 am at 1:36 am |
  18. life5678

    Melissa Harris-Perry is a frighteningly disturbed person. I can't imagine being so sick minded that you could use an innocent baby, in such a vile way, to try to gain favor with your followers. If any of your viewers actually approve of such twisted thought, then you have a following that deserves to be force fed your kool-aid.

    December 31, 2013 01:38 am at 1:38 am |
  19. just me

    Whoa, wait a sec. Everyone knows you can't say stupid, hurtful things unless you're a fake hillbilly millionaire or talking a bout our President. Where are all the free speechers? Btw, where are all the birthers? Cruz has practically flashed his intention to run in neon lights and there hasn't been a peep from Trump and co..

    December 31, 2013 01:38 am at 1:38 am |
  20. Nunya

    Meanwhile, Megyn Kelly on Fox News defends her adamant statements that both Santa Claus, who is based on a Turkish saint and. Jesus Christ, a middle eastern man are both white, without a doubt, despite the fact that their ethnic racial backgrounds would suggest otherwise.

    December 31, 2013 01:39 am at 1:39 am |
  21. Nate

    I'm not surprised. MSNBC seems to be full of nasty, hateful people. Of course, CNN isn't much better at times.

    December 31, 2013 01:47 am at 1:47 am |
  22. dre

    Dean is a comedian? Has he ever said anything funny?

    December 31, 2013 01:51 am at 1:51 am |
  23. Jacob

    Its not the CNN commentators that make this bad, its all the Riff Raff trash that squeezes out their horrific views of ethnicity and blinds viewers with bias and stagnation.

    December 31, 2013 01:57 am at 1:57 am |
  24. Mike

    They ought to apologize! And, they ought to have known better!

    December 31, 2013 02:05 am at 2:05 am |
  25. Ricox

    All people on cable television "news" are idiots.

    Read a newspaper, you'll get smarter.

    December 31, 2013 02:05 am at 2:05 am |
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