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. Not Surprised

    That old liberal Double Standard again - and again and again and again and again.........

    December 31, 2013 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  2. rlavallee2869

    Proof positive that liberals can be every bit as small-minded as they accuse conservatives of being.

    December 31, 2013 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  3. stixman46

    Apparently the only people more racist and moronic than the hosts on MSNBC, are the idiots who watch them then try to defend the garbage that comes out of their mouths.

    December 31, 2013 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  4. MrScott

    Gee, no heckling of Brad Pitt and Jolie by MSNBC for adopting kids from out of the country? And what MSNBC for one of your news persons saying that a parent's kids are not theirs but of the community?

    December 31, 2013 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  5. Giancarlos

    Proves how hypocritical the media really is.

    December 31, 2013 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  6. jc

    I used to like some shows at MSNBC but they lost me this year after the Snowden thing. Now this confirms that they don't know where to stop. Not cool

    December 31, 2013 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  7. scott

    Wake up black people. MSNBC and the liberals hate you and treat you as inferior. They laugh when they point out the differences in skin color between people.

    December 31, 2013 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  8. Name

    Wonder what they are saying behind POTUS? He may not have been adopted but he was a bi-racial baby raised by his white grand parents! MSNBC, is that funny also?

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

    I respectfully disagree with those who question the intention of the Romney's in adopting a black child.
    I see MSNBC and the likes as racist. My respect for Governor Romney and his family.

    December 31, 2013 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  10. Zondar

    Joel – it was more than "one" comment. It was a series of them, by several people on the same show.

    December 31, 2013 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  11. jr

    MSNBC is horrible. Extremely biased and far too many reporters/commentators are nasty with dark sarcasm. Definitely worse and nastier than FOX though both have bias.

    December 31, 2013 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  12. stixman46

    The only people more moronic than the the idiot hosts on MSNBC are the jackwagons who actually WATCH them and then try to defend the garbage that comes out of their mouths.

    December 31, 2013 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  13. rob

    If they want to go there, Phil Robertson has a black grandchild. seems the only inclusive families are white. But the left still call them out as racist.

    December 31, 2013 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  14. Ed

    It is amazing to me that many progressives – who publicly decry racism – persist in making brazenly racist comments. Worse, they persist in creating policies that foster dependence and defend mediocrity. Especially in education, which should truly be the path to success.

    December 31, 2013 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  15. doncampbell101

    They can't fire these "news commentators" fast enough...

    December 31, 2013 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  16. Paul

    I guess Romney is going to be forced to adjust his 47% numbers now, and maybe be more sensitive to the rest of the American society. The fact is MSNBC was just poking fun at an overt racist that just doesn't have a clue and his comments that were supposed to be private (he thought) came to light. For him to all of sudden have a non-white grandchild is priceless, and MSNBC was just saying what 53% of America would be thinking. (100-47 lol).

    December 31, 2013 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  17. Namelessly

    Fire all these Bozos right now. I am sick of all the media destroying other peoples lives of what they consider racist oer prejudice. When they pull this crap, they need to go down too. Eye for an eye. Tooth for a tooth. Maybe after they get enough taste of their own medicine, they will start becoming worthy of their profession again.

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

    I certainly expect this behavior from FOX News but I am shocked to see this on CNBC. Shame on them.

    December 31, 2013 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  19. Mark Peterson

    Poor judgment, poor taste and essentially a cheap shot at the opposition at the expense of a child needs to be called out. Anyone thinking otherwise is a complete jerk.

    December 31, 2013 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  20. The Worm, Jr.

    Someone commented: "Hopefully the child will grow up to be our 3rd or 4th black president", I hope so and maybe he will be a good President with ethics and character and one that is not only in it for himself, but a true public servant who is honest with the people that employ him. That would be a refreshing change from what we have today in Washington, wouldn't it?

    December 31, 2013 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  21. the dude

    I see the never ending standard still being upheld by the liberal left minorities of bigotry. Somehow they think it's ok to make such racial comments and get away with it then back peddle with their empty insincere apologies. You people are disgusting, It's not reverse racism just plain old racism. Great job MSNBC for once again displaying your lack of class, and respect for other like good old Martin Bashir.

    December 31, 2013 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  22. Dr. Darius

    Stay classy MSNBC. The far left never ceases to amaze me with their bigotry and hatred. The most disgusting part of it all is that they preach tolerance, except for those who disagree with them.

    December 31, 2013 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  23. Harish Tekchandani

    All involved with this sensitive issues must be fired.
    Nothing less than Firing is justified.
    They should be ashamed for their racist comments – apology is not sufficient
    MSNBC must also start promoting no racial nonsense

    December 31, 2013 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  24. John

    MSNBC stopped being a legitimate news outlet a long time ago. It is simply a microphone for extreme liberal, progressive and often racist views. Prominent reporters include Rev Al Sharpton, Toure and Harris Perry. The level of hypocrisy is disgusting. The level of hate and anger towards conservative beliefs is anti free speech and absolutely insulting.

    December 31, 2013 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  25. joe

    The left, in an effort to scream from the top of a mountain how diverse they are, always seam to show how bigoted they truly are

    December 31, 2013 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106