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. Rudy NYC


    The boy does indeed stand out. He's the only boy in this picture who has been forced to wear the feminine colors otherwise assigned to the girls.
    Nah, I don't think that.. See the other babies still in diapers? It seems as if "babes in arms" have their own matching outfit.

    December 31, 2013 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  2. Sanity

    People are so easily manipulated that they still hate Mitt Romney who, had he not run for office against their guy, would be considered by almost everyone to be a good hardworking American worthy of admiration. Look at yourselves. You still feel the need to spew venom because the Obama campaign and his lapdog media manipulated you into thinking that Romney was actually a bad guy. By any standards, he is a good, honest, family-loving hardworking man. You don't have to agree with his policies or ideas but it is childish to have so much ill will. Can't you see that you have been manipulated?

    December 31, 2013 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  3. CapeCod

    It seems like every couple weeks someone on MSNBC says something more tasteless than the previous.

    The Romney's adopted a beautiful child.

    Only through the eyes of hatred could that be turned around.

    December 31, 2013 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  4. scranton

    The network of hate being itself as usual, move along nothing new to see here.

    December 31, 2013 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  5. Tampa Tim

    Still waiting for Bobby Jindal to come out in support for free speech for Melissa Hartis a Perry.

    December 31, 2013 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  6. jm

    So if somebody on Fox had made the same comment would there be an uproar and people demanding firings. Jessie and Al would have been on the streets. Double standard America!!

    December 31, 2013 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  7. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    My passive- aggressive manner for dealing with their judgment was to say "You know, my wife says she is mine, but gosh, she doesn't look much like me!" We decided, long ago that we chose as God guided us, the challenges existed, but the rewards have been so wonderful!
    Your story melted my heart.
    God bless you and wife for your generosity of spirit put into action.
    It is not everyone that can take someone else's child and love and care for them as if they were their own.
    Kudos and the best of the New Year to you and your family!

    December 31, 2013 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  8. rob

    Jessie, Al, countless NAACP racists, etc have long shown their hand. They need to keep the thought of racism against blacks alive in order to keep a job. They dont care in the least of their hatred. Disgusting.
    MSNBC is simply where they go to feign news and talk thier filth.

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

    Someone said something about Phil Robertson, Phil has an adopted African American grandchild as well.

    December 31, 2013 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  10. ironage

    At this point...what do you really expect from that gutter network?

    December 31, 2013 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  11. Jeff

    Hmmm... I wonder how many from the Race Baiters Club are going to be calling MSNBC or Tulane University, where the school describes her as one of their "exceptional professor," and demanding her dismissal. My bet is on NONE. Race Baiters stick together.

    December 31, 2013 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  12. Lisa B

    We are two white parents with two black adopted children, I am HIGHLY OFFENDED by this panel's comments!

    December 31, 2013 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  13. msnbc

    MSNBC is becoming more irrelevant and not even worth of noting.

    December 31, 2013 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  14. Rudy NYC

    Admit it, folks. We have heard similar wise cracks, if not worse, on comedy shows like SNL. Conservatives just simply like playing the victim card, anyway. It's a distraction. It's their way of sweeping the serious issues under the rug.

    December 31, 2013 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  15. candida

    why is that grandson the only male wearing pink?

    December 31, 2013 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  16. Dude

    See and here all along we thought the republicans were all racist! Oh wait they are!

    December 31, 2013 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  17. JY

    Ok for the Bible thumpers to spit out hate and recism, no one else. Most recently, Duck Dynastly millionaires, most often, Fox, Rush and the rest of the hate mongerors making billions off their lemmings.

    December 31, 2013 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  18. joedog

    Obeidallah uses the Jon Stewart defense of being a comedian. It is transparently abhorrent.

    December 31, 2013 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  19. Lynda/Minnesota

    There is no way of getting around it ... this is awfully distasteful coming from those who ought to know better. I can't imagine why grown adults when put in front of T.V. monitors feel the need to make complete fools of themselves.

    December 31, 2013 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  20. msnbc

    MSNBC has no conscience and they are some the most racist individuals on cable. THey should be boycotted and NBC as well for allowing this hatred to be broadcast.

    December 31, 2013 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  21. corpsman

    Much ado about nothing.

    December 31, 2013 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  22. luckytwo

    For all of you who believe this comment was in bad taste I ask you when was the last time you listened to FOX news and all the trash that they put out.

    December 31, 2013 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  23. Scott

    MSNBC is just as big of a joke as Faux. They have more commentary than any other news outlet including Faux. It's a joke

    December 31, 2013 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  24. Bill

    MSNBC seems to be issuing a lot of these types of apologies. That happens when you build a network based on political hatred and intolerance.

    December 31, 2013 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  25. The Worm, Jr.

    Racism, pure and simple. Of course it is "acceptable" because it came from a black commentator on a left leaning media outlet. Where is the outrage?

    December 31, 2013 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
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