December 30th, 2013
05:27 PM ET
7 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 CNN.com.)

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. cathymessinger

    I love the joke about the racial diversity of the Republican party.
    I also suspect Romney's son of having a political motive in adopting this boy. What office is he planning to run for?

    If adopting minority babies is the new strategy of the GOP to reach across ethnic lines, then once again they have totally missed the point.

    December 31, 2013 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  2. double standards

    "Two panelists later said their comments weren’t directed at the baby and apologized if the family was offended."
    Who were they directed at then? and how is that acceptable. Don't worry all of these people will keep their jobs wherever they all work... Interesting how 'the media' has double standards for behavior like this. They are forgiving of some people while others get fired for similar behavior which just happens to coincide with certain physical features, their religion, or an accent they have.

    December 31, 2013 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  3. apanda

    How do they keep their jobs. Talk about racist people, MSNBC defines racist. Can't watch that channel at all, have tried but just can't.

    December 31, 2013 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  4. DaveinFlorida

    MSNBC and Foxnews are useless news sources. Take them both off the air before this country devolves into an Idiocracy.

    December 31, 2013 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  5. Q

    Despite the outrage, I can't get around the idea that it reminds me of Bruno.

    December 31, 2013 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  6. Ken

    Melissa Harris-Perry should be put on indefinite hiatus immediately!!!

    What was I thinking, she's on the left attacking the right. She'll be given a raise and promotion.

    December 31, 2013 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  7. BO

    The real hate seems to be coming from the left.

    December 31, 2013 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  8. Maria Rivera-Carvalho

    Here is some advice for the media: let the roxic Mitt Romney rot in peace and leave his family and all polical figures' families out of the game. They don't have to pay for the sins fo their fathers.

    December 31, 2013 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  9. Scott

    The double standard of the press makes me weary.

    December 31, 2013 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  10. S

    Why is Kieran in the female color in the family photo? There is clearly a dress code for the photo, along gender lines!

    December 31, 2013 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  11. faux scandals

    She apologized, time to move on, nothing to see here.

    December 31, 2013 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  12. jdpower

    Proof-positive there is no level to which the libtards at MSNBC will not sink to bash republicans – even going so far as attacking a man's family.

    December 31, 2013 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  13. cybersport

    I am no fan of Mitt Romney. I voted for Obama twice and I support Obamacare.
    But the comments about Mr. Romney's grandchild are nothing short vile and as an adoptee I find them particularly offensive.

    The hosts involved should be fired immediately

    December 31, 2013 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  14. Name

    Your WHOLE INTENT was one of pure harm. The comedian has an excuse that is their job. As well as why are you even covering this at all?

    December 31, 2013 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  15. Miguel

    It seems not a week goes by without MSNBC stepping in in. Maybe the owners should find some more responsible people to represent their network.

    At the heart – tolerant open minded liberals are anything but tolerant and open minded.

    December 31, 2013 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  16. Lynndel

    Trying to catch the minority will not get him elected in the next election. Why doesn't he stop and just go away.

    December 31, 2013 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  17. hkirwin

    This isn't about right or left. Its about right or wrong. This is wrong on so many levels. Instead of recognizing it for what it actually is some try to find comparisons to justify the hypocracy and bad behavior. Yet some will wonder why racisim still exist. Here is a clue boys and girls. There is no justification for this kind or bigotry and bad behavior. Kudos to the Romney's for providing a parentless child a loving home. i would love to be part of that family,

    December 31, 2013 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  18. Maria Rivera-Carvalho

    Here is some advice for the media: let the toxic Mitt Romney rot in peace and leave his family and all polical figures' families out of the game. They don't have to pay for the sins of the parents.

    December 31, 2013 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  19. Jay Lomiko

    So MSNBC thinks its okay to make fun of folks who adopt,..I wonder should I make fun of folks who can't report NEWS?

    December 31, 2013 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  20. Soco

    The media instigates bias, racism and bigotry for profit.

    December 31, 2013 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  21. susan

    Why is this the CNN Big Story of the Day!
    Hardly newsworthy. Is it a slow news day?

    December 31, 2013 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  22. jpmichigan

    MSNBC has a sick habit of trying to do what ever they feel is necessary to bring shame to others an all they do is look incompetent as reporters. Did it to Sarah Palin and now the Romney family. ASHAM ON YOU MSNBC, no wonder your rating are in the toilet!!!

    December 31, 2013 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  23. RickN

    I'm proud to consider myself a Liberal and sometimes watch MSNBC. This incident was way over the line. These people must be nuts to say stuff like that on any show. Joking in private is one thing, but giving the right wing this much cannon fodder to fire back is just embarrassing and inappropriate.

    December 31, 2013 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  24. maccola

    Shameful, inexcusable, if I was their boss they would all lose their jobs today.

    December 31, 2013 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  25. Fair is Fair

    MilitaryAF

    Give it time. This is a political ploy by one of the Romney kids
    ----------
    Yeah. Of course. That MUST be it.

    December 31, 2013 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
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