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. opsmdev

    I'm just astounded by the efforts to defend these people. The bigotry, hatred and racism shown by these comments are beyond any sort of excuse by anyone with a shred of integrity.

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

    Nice of MSNBC personalities to apologise when they offend people. Hannity, O'Reilly or Kelly would have doubled down and said their target deserves it. Any Republican who complains here is a hypocrite.

    December 31, 2013 08:21 am at 8:21 am |
  3. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Why not we get over with this lost in space Romney bs....
    Absolutely Gurgyl....just as soon as we make it perfectly clear that making fun of someone who's adopted a child, or of the adopted child itself, is completely unnacceptable, uncalled for, petty and small and makes us just as "lost in space" as Romney and his bids for the White House.

    December 31, 2013 08:22 am at 8:22 am |
  4. M

    This woman needs to man-up. If you were big enough of to say what you said, then stand behind it. Don't start apologizing now for your ignorance.

    December 31, 2013 08:23 am at 8:23 am |
  5. james slater

    Are there ANY LIBERALS that have ANY brains? What a disgraceful thing for MSNBC to say and do! The Romney family has more class in their baby toes than this bunch of dumb, ignorant Liberals have in their total movement!

    December 31, 2013 08:23 am at 8:23 am |
  6. Rachel

    When are people going to start waking up and see who the real racists are these days.

    December 31, 2013 08:24 am at 8:24 am |
  7. bigdoglv

    Dan said "Still wouldn't vote for him. He probably won't inherit any of the money. We'll see." This child will be treated and loved as the others in this family. Your partisan comments make you look like the fool you are.

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

    No one is more conscious of race (IE: racist) than is a modern "progressive".

    December 31, 2013 08:24 am at 8:24 am |
  9. MollyBee

    How in the world did these three thing those tasteless and mean comments would go over with the MSNBC audience. Shame on all of you and now....please deal with the same type of backlash generated by the mean comments of Phil Robertson.

    December 31, 2013 08:25 am at 8:25 am |
  10. jb_n_atl

    looks like mittens is preparing another presidential run

    December 31, 2013 08:25 am at 8:25 am |
  11. JohnM

    Expecting anything but stupidity from today's media, particularly panelists on one of the endless stream of "news" shows, is expecting too much. The kind of people attracted to these meaningless, trivial jobs are not exactly the kind of citizens America can be proud of. I'd be happy to see them all go away.

    December 31, 2013 08:27 am at 8:27 am |
  12. maybeitsme

    Unbelievable! Shame on MSNBC and all involved. Blessings to the Romney family and this innocent child.

    December 31, 2013 08:27 am at 8:27 am |
  13. franklovesfl

    More vile, evil, hate from the champions of the Democratic Party. But no one is really surprised, are they.

    December 31, 2013 08:27 am at 8:27 am |
  14. Uncle Sam

    Well yes, let's keep the race issue front and center. We are all the same, right. Why must we keep pointing out differences. Even to the extent of making fun of it.

    December 31, 2013 08:28 am at 8:28 am |
  15. gringainparadise

    The commentators and "journalists" on MSNBC are the most hateful group on television. Period.

    December 31, 2013 08:28 am at 8:28 am |
  16. Lou

    Our family consist of Mom who is of Indian heritage, Myself who is of European heritage, and our three children who we adopted at birth, are of African heritage. None of us look a like, but we are a loving family. We get stares and odd questions at times, but usually ignore the rude questions or remarks. Nobody penetrates our family bond of love. I don't care what anyone says, because my wife and I are blessed to have the family we have.

    December 31, 2013 08:29 am at 8:29 am |
  17. bigdoglv

    If the Pelosi family did this it would be front page news about how great they are to give the child a chance. But since it is the Romney family the left makes jokes and says that the adoption was done for political purposes. Shame on all of you!

    December 31, 2013 08:29 am at 8:29 am |
  18. rla

    The comments and the political C- on this blog show why Americans are seeing the prejudice, hate and directed slander that has become progressive America and their foils!

    December 31, 2013 08:29 am at 8:29 am |
  19. Tom

    When Repubs make comments like the comments made by these panelists, they are racist. When Dems make these comments, it's a joke that was misunderstood and can be corrected with a feigned tweeted apology.

    December 31, 2013 08:30 am at 8:30 am |
  20. Terry Bradford

    One reason there is lack of diversity in the GOP is that some blacks blindly follow the democratic party without really knowing what they are following. I have several black friends and one of them, who I know voted for Obama, did not know that only 1/2 of people pay any federal income tax and thought that was wrong when I pointed out that fact. Another stated that many of the democratic policies incent people being on welfare, and yet another believes in more conservative priciples than liberal, yet still voted for Obama. How can one explain that??

    December 31, 2013 08:30 am at 8:30 am |
  21. J Blaze

    This is par for the course for any of the left leaning 'news' outlets. Hate compiled on hate with the message that it's okay AS LONG AS you're a democrat. Which of course is nonsense, much like the entire democratic party right now. The good news? In 2014 all the dems will be kicked to the curb for supporting the ACA.

    December 31, 2013 08:31 am at 8:31 am |
  22. Jomm

    Oh please, and Foxnews does not have it hate? Yes, the Romney is going to be made fun of. He insulted many people when he ran for president and all of a sudden his family go and adopted a black child and now we all are suppose to believe he love black folks and love people making less money now. Give me a break.

    December 31, 2013 08:31 am at 8:31 am |
  23. itwasntme904

    True racism exposed. Will MSNBC have the guts to fire this liberal trash?

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

    Proof that racism is one sided in this country....if you're from the "correct party" then you can joke about stuff like this but if from the "wrong party" then Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, etc all come out of the woodwork.... Some of the biggest racists I know are Democrats (unfortunately in my family) but they think because they voted for a black President that they get a pass and are all of a sudden tolerant. I vote based on policies and voting history not color but yet as an independent because I couldn't vote for Obama I was called a racist by my liberal friends. Romney isn't running for an office now so I consider this a racist attack to single out this baby that was lucky to be adopted into a loving family

    December 31, 2013 08:32 am at 8:32 am |
  25. clcbjc123

    Why not, "One of these is not like the other," and "I applaud the Romneys for giving an orphan/child a lovely home." Why do so many preach caring and forgiveness but hate others because they think different???

    December 31, 2013 08:32 am at 8:32 am |
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