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. Susan

    Wow, and where are our race issues coming from again???

    December 31, 2013 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  2. Jerry

    Just goes to prove that the liberal left news organization, who preaches tolerance and acceptance, has none! Man can you imagine the outrage if these comments had been made by conservatives? This is worse then Chris Matthews saying thank God for hurricane Sandy.

    December 31, 2013 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  3. hkirwin

    How can anyone will a shred of common sense defend MSNBC? I read the rants from some of you folks and it really scares me.

    December 31, 2013 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  4. midas360

    MSNBC is just a r.a.c.i.s.t. channel plain and simple. I watched the segment and it made me ill.

    December 31, 2013 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  5. American Citizen

    Actually MSNBC is the biggest joke of all. Did not know they were still on the air.

    December 31, 2013 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  6. Tamara Clarke

    If one looks back far enough in their own family history, chances of finding a person of colour is great. For the ignorant not to take a day off from stupidity is astounding! Yet, I would not be surprised if the person (I use that term very loosely)who thought singing the sesame street song, was coming off as "cute". Sad state of affairs, really.

    December 31, 2013 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  7. Truth

    MSNBC is still on the air because the left lives off of hate like many if us live off of oxygen.

    December 31, 2013 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  8. 12970

    While most take this opportunity to make a political statement, I would like to congratulate the family on a successful adoption. Your loving choice gives this child a better chance in life.

    December 31, 2013 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  9. NameFrank Deery

    Laugh and scratch now, MSNB"S", but this time next year, Republicans rule both Houses
    of Congress!

    December 31, 2013 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  10. Seriously?

    When did anyone think that MSNBC was a real news channel anyway?!

    December 31, 2013 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  11. Alan

    You have to be a racist or bigot... to even work for MSNBC – Hosts have to prove they are both a racist and a bigot. (It's right on their application)

    December 31, 2013 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  12. Xavier

    Republicans cry foul over this... But are fine with the racist comments of the Duck Dynasty guy?

    December 31, 2013 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  13. Chairman Liberal National Party

    I watched the show. Those were not malicious comments. They were humorous. When they (conservatives) want to start a fight they will use most anything as an afront. It is an insult to intelligence. I am disappointed MSNBC backed down. Their comment should have been: 'get a life".

    December 31, 2013 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  14. Jan

    I saw the segment and was disgusted how MSNBC will do ANYTHING to demean a Republican, even if it means letting their own bigotry shine.

    December 31, 2013 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  15. Tyler Holloway

    Seems like I remember someone say -from the words of the mouth come the meditations of the heart ... so that is just sad for them. Hopefully the apology is not just to save face but to learn, grow and change heart.

    December 31, 2013 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  16. Rodd

    Who cares about the child look at what they are wearing...

    December 31, 2013 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  17. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    An unqualified apology, to be differentiated from a Republican apology which typically starts out with "IF I have offended blah, blah, blah" has been issued.
    I said some things, you've said some things, we've all opined, let's keep it moving.
    Nothing else to see here.

    December 31, 2013 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  18. texasfan

    "really sums up the diversity of the Republican Party."

    I literally guffawed when I read that line!!! So sad...but soooo true.

    December 31, 2013 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  19. mike

    I would never watch MSNBC just for this reason. They seem to get their kicks by degrading people!

    December 31, 2013 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  20. Virginia

    I would be happy not to ever hear anything about the Romneys ever again.

    December 31, 2013 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  21. Dave

    Bunch of bigots. Only reason more people are not upset about this is no one watches the channel

    December 31, 2013 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  22. SonicYouf

    hahaha love all the libs saying "nothing to see here, keep it moving." If this were a panel of Fox commentators talking about a hypothetical black child adopted by Chelsea Clinton, it'd be the end of their careers in show business. Liberals are so hypocritical it hurts.

    December 31, 2013 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  23. OldMo

    At least one of their hosts didn't suggest someone's mouth should be used as a toilet this time around. Btw, I wonder what Melissa Harris-Perry thinks about adopted kids if she believes parents' naturally born children don't even belong to them? Honestly, I believe the hosts of msnbc and apparently some of the guests have legit mental illnesses.

    December 31, 2013 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  24. rell87

    No one is as hateful and bigoted as a left-wing journalist.

    December 31, 2013 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  25. Forrest

    So why not the same response as the one received by the woman who made an inappropriate tweet on her way to Africa, or the one that phil Robertson got from A&E. FIRE HER!

    December 31, 2013 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
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