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. Bigdoglv

    A real classy bunch at MSNBC.

    December 31, 2013 07:46 am at 7:46 am |
  2. Say What?

    By the comments here and from MSNBC, people need to grow up, period....the baby was acting more human than you

    December 31, 2013 07:47 am at 7:47 am |
  3. james

    people just want something to be offend by.grow is just words.

    December 31, 2013 07:47 am at 7:47 am |
  4. Treebeard

    "One of these things is not like the others".
    What part of this song is not true ?
    I see no problem with it.

    December 31, 2013 07:48 am at 7:48 am |
  5. Willow

    It's one thing to make fun of Republicans for being Republican. It's another thing to drag their relatives and small children into it. Leave the kids alone.

    December 31, 2013 07:48 am at 7:48 am |
  6. chuck

    Really? Saw the segment and found it funny. Republicans need to get a since of humor.

    December 31, 2013 07:48 am at 7:48 am |
  7. Captain Obvious

    Not surprising. The only racist comments I ever hear come from the mouths of liberals. They thrive on stereotypes.

    December 31, 2013 07:49 am at 7:49 am |
  8. James

    Why is this being called "insensitive" or "joking about a baby". It is RACSISM. When it's done by a white person or republican liberals find racism in a dog whistle. But when there is blatant racist comments somehow it does not get that label. They made fun of the baby because he is black.

    December 31, 2013 07:49 am at 7:49 am |
  9. Just Curious

    So, FoxNews can call President Obama "a skinny, ghetto crackhead" without apologizing, but THESE statements require one? Makes perfect sense...

    December 31, 2013 07:49 am at 7:49 am |
  10. One one

    The snarkiness of this display seems common from comments comming from the left. Astounding hypocracy. I wonder if Obama will weigh in like he has in the past related to racial controversies.

    December 31, 2013 07:50 am at 7:50 am |
  11. mark

    I think MSNBC should fire all those that made fun of the Romney family. I find it very disturbing and without class. I think that MSNBC owes the Romney family and the entire public an apology for all the comments.

    December 31, 2013 07:50 am at 7:50 am |
  12. Smellferd

    MSNBC is a dead property. It is non profitable and has a small, diminishing audience. It's only a matter of time until it is shuttered or sold.

    December 31, 2013 07:51 am at 7:51 am |
  13. yoshimoto

    wait a second – why aren't these people fired – this is an outrage – we need to report on and blow up every instance of anybody doing anything politically incorrect – where is Sharpton and Jackson – they need to get paid – don't let them get away with this – this is an outrage – bump all the stories on the economy and focus on this – this is what is important in America – catching slips like this

    December 31, 2013 07:51 am at 7:51 am |
  14. One one

    The snarkiness of this display seems common from comments coming from the left. Astounding hypocracy. I wonder if Obama will weigh in like he has in the past related to racial controversies.

    December 31, 2013 07:54 am at 7:54 am |
  15. amackhill

    if nobody watches MSNBC then whats the problem. and what system would that kid been stuck in? he is really in a "system" now!

    December 31, 2013 07:55 am at 7:55 am |
  16. Jenny

    Wow, she still has her job? They fired a white public relations exec for an AIDS in Africa joke, but not a black host for moving a white child?

    With all the bullying nowadays and now we have grown women mocking infants in diverse households?

    One more question.....if that was our president in a family photo with his mother and her side of the family, what then shall you say? Ignorance is bliss?

    That child could very well be a future president. You better hope he's a forgiving one.

    December 31, 2013 07:57 am at 7:57 am |
  17. hkirwin

    Why are liberals such haters. They are vile nasty people who hate anything different from them. Liberals define the word hypocrite.

    December 31, 2013 07:59 am at 7:59 am |
  18. Jenny

    Sorry, I meant to say mocking a white family, not moving a white child.

    December 31, 2013 07:59 am at 7:59 am |
  19. PevanB

    Just a honest look at how they really feel – total racists. If a tea party member had done it it would have been a blow out. More double standard.

    December 31, 2013 08:00 am at 8:00 am |
  20. garwin1

    There is nothing right about attacking a child.

    December 31, 2013 08:02 am at 8:02 am |
  21. Dave

    I am glad that the panelists apoligized for their comments. But I feel that their attempts to apologize are weak. If they are truly sincere about making amends for their statements, it needs to be done in the same way, in the same formate, and ion the same media used to make the comments initially.

    Sending a few "tweets" when your initial remarks were made on national television does not for a apology make.

    December 31, 2013 08:02 am at 8:02 am |

    Diversity of the Republican Party seems spot on... I hope they did this out of love and not to create a sense of false diversity so he could run again.. Is this even allowed in the moron church?

    December 31, 2013 08:02 am at 8:02 am |
  23. brasstacs

    MSNBC is nothing less then a liberal propaganda machine,with around the clock bashing of anybody or anything that opposes their liberal ideology....They will viciously attack women,minorities or anybody who is not a liberal, they will spin twist and shape stories to fit their agenda ...and what they leave out could fill volumes.... They are a national disgrace.

    December 31, 2013 08:03 am at 8:03 am |
  24. OldWest

    How quickly all of you forget about your racist supporting southern republican tea party politicans...

    December 31, 2013 08:04 am at 8:04 am |
  25. Rex

    Typical liberal double standard hypocrite. This is why the Left has no credibility.

    December 31, 2013 08:05 am at 8:05 am |
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