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. critical thinking

    Typical of liberal minded people. When conservatives mention anything about race, they are racist. When liberals mention anything about race, it's; "I was just kidding, don't be so sensitive".

    December 31, 2013 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  2. wb

    If you work FOR the media you get to just apologize and move on and all is forgiven. If you don't, you are dogged relentlessly BY the media until every last ounce of flesh is torn away. Isn't it sweet how they are so forgiving of their own transgressions? Awww.

    December 31, 2013 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  3. PBJ

    Because MSNBC is the single most tasteless, classless, racist, bigoted, prejudiced channel on the air. They just hide behind the political correctness insanity of the world we live in. They are, in their entirety, some of the most vile people I have ever heard of.

    December 31, 2013 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  4. BrickellPrincess

    An apology? That doesn't even come close to making what they did acceptable! More power to the Romney family for adopting a child and giving that child not only a better life, but a family!

    December 31, 2013 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  5. slc

    With all of the political correctness flying around these days, this seems to be in extremely poor taste and demands some type of censor on the part of the perpetrators. While their words may not have been intentionally hurtful, the undertones are unmistakeably prejudicial and slanted. MSNBC, time for us on the left to take action and practice what we preach.

    December 31, 2013 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  6. MilitaryAF

    Give it time. This is a political ploy by one of the Romney kids.

    December 31, 2013 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  7. Timodeus

    Behold the tolerance of the Left.

    December 31, 2013 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  8. Tim in Florida

    Grandson or Granddaughter? Looks like the boys are in blue and the girls are in pink. I'm offended they dressed the boy in pink.

    December 31, 2013 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  9. TomTom

    I'm surprised anybody heard about this. I thought the only people that watched msnbc anymore were employees that were forced to.

    December 31, 2013 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  10. DaveinIL

    Typical MSNBC insensitivity to non-liberals.

    December 31, 2013 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  11. Marc

    Wow, everyone's REALLY upset about this huh? Seriously? There are people getting blown up in Russia and this is what we're concerned about?

    I was adopted, and have even dealt with criticism over adoption at times. I'm not even bothered by this entire segment whatsoever. You people need to take a step back and realize that fretting over petty crap like this just makes like more stressful and less enjoyable.

    December 31, 2013 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  12. The Elephant in the Room

    Nothing to see here of significance. Two 2nd rate comedians make moderately tasteless comments and the show host erred by not pre-empting the photo to begin with.

    Now onto something of much greater relevance. OK Mitt, last "leader" of the Republican party {which has a very clear race tone & policy problem} now let me hear your stance on Stop & Frisk.

    December 31, 2013 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  13. Mike

    Oh great, here we go with more political correctness from the right. This is the most overly sensitive group in the world. Grow up and have a little accountibility in life. It's tough out there, repubs ...

    December 31, 2013 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  14. O'drama ya Mama

    Mike Wallace

    Duck Dynasty patriarch makes racist remarks and is suspended = violation of free speech.

    comedians on MSNBC mock Romney and Republican party = MSNBC should be removed from the airwaves.

    Ah, the hypocrisy of conservatives and their tyrannical hatred of individual liberties.
    December 31, 2013 08:51 am at 8:51 am |

    Duck Dynasty is back on the air because you conservatives think his rights to say whatever he wants were violated. Is this not the same exact scenario taking place?

    December 31, 2013 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  15. rob

    Archer the truth about liberals isn't hateful, racist or lies. Funny how the left supports racism, intolerance and hate but are the first to whine about it.

    December 31, 2013 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  16. Lee

    I would like to know one thing – why are they NOT calling out Angelina or Brad, or Madonna, Sandra Bullock or Charlize Theron?

    December 31, 2013 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  17. Dennis

    Fox News does this on a daily basis and boasts of it as long as it is directed towards the President and Democrats.Why acceptable for one network to do this and not another?The right are the biggest group of hypocrites and bigots this country know.Spare us the façade of outrage.

    December 31, 2013 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  18. rob

    Mike Wallace please lie and tell us what Phil Robertson said that was racist. We will be waiting for the liberal lies that flow from the left when they don't get their way.

    December 31, 2013 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  19. Misael

    I just don't understand why the baby is an adopted grandchild. Why not an adopted son?

    December 31, 2013 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  20. Pick Of The Litter

    Hey, where are Jesse and Al on this one? All I'm hearing are crickets!!

    December 31, 2013 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  21. vinster76

    I expect nothing but trash from a trashy's just like when we were all kids and got into a fight: when you got nothing left, and it's all over, and you cant win, you name-call.........garbage is as does

    December 31, 2013 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  22. PaleoCon

    Oops! This doesn't fit the phony liberal media narrative, does it? Karma bites.

    December 31, 2013 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  23. mm

    Truly disgusting and new low for MSNBC.

    December 31, 2013 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  24. A Kickin' Donkey

    The liberals are FAR FAR more strict on people than the so-called " conservatives". MHP apologized after the fact and in the heat of the moment said NOTHING inappropriate. Her biggest mistake was not to veto the picture in the pre-production meeting if anything other than praise was going to be uttered. She uttered praise.

    Liberals didn't re-elect Vitter or Ensign. Liberals didn't call Fluke a slu+ and then, even after having time to think about it, didn't condemn it. Liberals didn't call the suspension of the Duck Dynasty actor comments and infringement on "Free Speech" BECAUSE THEY WERE NOT. Liberals threw Weiner out of office and didn't allow him to be elected mayor. Liberal Bashire resigned after exercising his free speech. Call me when Republicans catch up to the Democrats on intergrity. It will take about 20 years.

    December 31, 2013 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  25. VKD

    That network is a mess!!! All it does is criticize people that don't agree with them! It's disgusting!! MSNBC needs some checks and balances because they are loosing it if this is what they think is newsworthy. It was a Christmas card!!! Should he have left his African American grandson out!? What a bunch of idiots!!!!

    December 31, 2013 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
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