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. Tim

    The childishness of Liberals and their propaganda outlets like MSNBC seems to have no limits. Will they ever grow up?

    December 30, 2013 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  2. Dan

    Still wouldn't vote for him. He probably won't inherit any of the money. We'll see.

    December 30, 2013 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  3. Wake up People!

    But seriously, Mitt and Kanye as in-laws??? Anne and Kim??? Too funny. I'm going to have to see this because I don't see what the hoopla is. Too bad Foxlite doesn't report on the negativity on Fox. Think of all the nasty things they have said about the Obama girls over the years. Just looking for crap to spew.

    December 30, 2013 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  4. Alex

    I'm sure the apology is coming. But the ignorance will remain.

    December 30, 2013 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  5. Nick

    Where is Al Sharpton and the race baiters about MSNBC making fun of an AA child. The liberals will make this childs life a living HELL.

    December 30, 2013 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  6. Romney is STILL NOT My Hero

    Okay, I was on hiatus for a long time. I was starting to get carpal tunnel from responding to all the stupidity in Washington DC, BUT I cannot keep quiet any longer. There is a whole network committed to bashing the current President of the United States (AKA. Faux News Channel) AND that hasn't stopped them from continuing the hate. So, I applaud MSNBC. Keep up the good work!

    Have a Happy New Year everyone!

    December 30, 2013 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  7. Meh

    Sooo, the right can slam people like Angelina Jolie and Madonna for adopting children of color, but Mittens is off limits? Methinks something smells funny here. Cant have it both ways people.

    December 30, 2013 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  8. Dumbas[R]ocks

    From the looks of the well-populated picture, Mormans spend a good deal of their free time screwing each other. And here I thought Romney was just out to screw the rest of us.

    But you are correct people.......its still big news when a "liberal" says something racist, but it hardly causes a hiccup anymore when a "conservative" spews racist comments. That's how low [R]s have fallen; their stupidity is no longer even news. I'm quite happy that any racist comments by liberals continue to be shockingly out of step and questioned by beats by many furlongs the [R] alternative.

    December 30, 2013 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  9. Anonymous

    Absolutely disgusting. These liberal media people are vial! PMSNBC has no scruples, no conscience, no moral compass! I've never seen a more hate mongering group in my life.

    December 30, 2013 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  10. Margie

    What a bunch of racist morons at MSNBC!

    December 30, 2013 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  11. Jackson


    It's OK to joke about a Black kid if it is done by a Liberal.


    I wonder, was Ann Coulter's comment "Our blacks are better than your blacks" any better? Did you complain when Ann made that comment? Or do you only complain when people you don't like say things like that.

    Call out both sides, or don't call out either. When you only call out one side, you show your own bias, and lose all credibility.

    December 30, 2013 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  12. HenryB

    As a Democrat and Liberal I must say that this is the most idiotic thing to say. MHP is one of the smartest people on TV but allowing this to happen is just stupid and wrong. Dumb!

    December 30, 2013 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  13. rs

    Big deal. Fox (and friends) went nuts about a picture of Obama and a white Prime Minister.

    December 30, 2013 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  14. Babyboomer

    I saw the picture the other day and wondered who in the Romney family had married a person of color but that was it. They all look happy and the child will be well cared for. I'm actually a fan of MSNBC and MHP but wrong is wrong and the comments were unacceptable. We can do better then this and we should...

    December 30, 2013 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  15. Tellingitlikeitis

    Come on, now; this adoption smells like a ploy to have us believe they (GOPs) are into diversity, and by using a black child as a prop to get into the White House is disgusting. The GOP will go to any length to make themselves look good.

    December 30, 2013 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  16. ginger

    Trust me, I am not a Mitt fan but any statement made other than "congrats" to the Romney family is sick and uncalled for. Thank God someone cared enough to give that child regardless of race, a home. Love does not have a color, only a feeling.

    December 30, 2013 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  17. Bill

    When republicans make racist jokes and go after children of liberals, it's just 'too much PC' when they get called out on it. Such hypocrisy when the tables are turned. I'm not condoning it on either side but spare the fake outrage. Conservatives are just as bad as liberals for inappropriate comments, so unless you're a member of the Romney family,, you don't get to demand an apology from anyone.

    December 30, 2013 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  18. Kenneth Krieger

    Obama says that if MSNBC likes their bad manors they can keep them, because they are only doing what he wants. Kenneth Krieger Cape Coral, Florida

    December 30, 2013 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  19. fxr3joe


    "Melissa Harris Perry was raised by a white mother so I highly doubt she is mocking a black child raised by a white family (nor is that how I took it on its face). This is a nontroversey (spelling purposeful)"
    You've GOT to be kidding. If thats true her white mother, if alive, is embarassed, if passed, turning over in her grave! Shes a race baiter of the first order! .

    December 30, 2013 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  20. mark

    I am not a romney fan but that is tasteless

    December 30, 2013 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  21. ora pike

    why is this group allowed to stay ;on tv-phil makes one comment and the left wing goes nuts. My wife and do not believe in abortion so we adopted 2 kids and to see this group of idiots make fun of an adopted baby makes me sick. well, the people on this panel are sick so .....................

    December 30, 2013 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  22. Fritz Hohenheim

    Well lucky for the child the Mormons abandoned their world view that blacks are subhumans about 30 years ago. Otherwise he might have adopted it as child labor force for one of his mansions

    December 30, 2013 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  23. dfreyer

    avlisk thank you – the one and only simple yet obvious answer.

    December 30, 2013 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  24. antes

    Are there any liberals out there who think this is racist or hateful? Are there any calls for someone to be fired?

    December 30, 2013 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  25. pat rahn

    How disgustingly low will Mellissa-Harris Perry be allowed to go before she is removed from the perpetual hate filled reporting network?
    Mellissa-harris Perry is a pathetic member of society.

    December 30, 2013 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
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