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. iceload9

    Stop the presses, stop the presses a rich persons feelings are hurt. Did CNN run articles of Romney's firm destroying retirement accounts with the same zeal?

    December 31, 2013 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  2. MichaelK

    All I can think of is that Romney can support his grandkids with the millions he stole from the American People.

    December 31, 2013 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  3. MickeyOregon

    Typical liberal name-calling and vilifying and mockery. Funny how the conservatives rarely engage in the same, while the Left can't help but.

    December 31, 2013 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  4. coyoteliberty

    Weak and insincere apologies, a typical case of I'm not sorry, I'm sorry I got caught "please forgive me" wink wink leftist hypocrisy.

    Harris-Perry and Obeidallah should be fired from MSNBC and from CNN, but, of course, they won't be. Hate speech from the left is always forgiveable.

    December 31, 2013 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  5. mk

    I am a liberal democrat in a blue state, and I find this video extremely offensive. I watch several shows on MSNBC,and the more I watch, the worse this network gets.Seems like all they do is blast the republican party every chance they get. Much of it is hateful. Absolutely no balance. Not that FOX is any better, but I am pretty sure that if this comment happened on FOX, there would be riots in the streets. Jesse and Al would be leading the marches. Talk about a double standard. Come on, MSNBC. You're better than this!

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

    The Left Wingers are truly off their collective rockers. Their lack of decency has no bounds.

    December 31, 2013 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  7. Bob

    MSNBC needs to step up and ban this woman from the airwaves. Can you imagine the "outrage" there would have been if it was a black family adopting a white baby and this statement had been made?

    December 31, 2013 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  8. Samantha

    As if the conservatives aren't poking fun behind close doors. I agree with Military AF....a political ploy all the way!!

    December 31, 2013 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  9. Normal In NH

    It's funny how liberals again and again commit the very sins they accuse conservatives of...with no proof of course. Maybe the voting public will finally wake up and see the true worth, or lack thereof, the liberals they've been voting for.

    December 31, 2013 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  10. Mac

    Typical mindset of tge tolerant left. It's ok for them to make jokes but no ine else. Melissa needs to go!

    December 31, 2013 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  11. Mr. Steve

    What no comment from Jessie Jackson or al Sharpton on this subject ? Oh I see !

    December 31, 2013 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  12. mike

    And this is what the right uses to distract the Nation from their dismal record toward the poor and disenfranchised to adopt a black child to show that they are" 1. tolerant 2. have a child or frlend who knows a black person and 3. have the dumb talking heads to pounce as a distraction shame on youas a reporter for even being used in this facade !!!

    December 31, 2013 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  13. Conservative

    Wow the conservatives will stop at nothing to play te victim every chance they get. There are much larger issues in the world than this. But I guess this allows them to try to hide the real issues they are going through and the awful things they say and do every day....

    December 31, 2013 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  14. Anonymous

    I'm trying to remember the last time anyone at Fox apologized for any of the hateful comments it spews on a daily basis. Never.

    December 31, 2013 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  15. Jan

    If a woman of mixed ethnicity can "joke" about this, what will she not do for ratings?
    I thought I was not suppose to see colour...that we are all the same despite

    December 31, 2013 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  16. pat

    I was sickened by that segment. The MHP show has really let down their viewers. The reason that I watch the show is so that I get some of my all-too-white perspectives challenged. I don't always accept the views on the show, but they used to be at least literate and well presented. MHP has had a number of misses this year, and my viewership has gotten more occassional than regular. But this is racist beyond any reasonable explanation. That is a child in his grandfather's arms. He and his family does not deserve denigration because of his race does not match his parents. If a white commentator had made these jokes, they would be off the air. Time for you to at least take a bit of a vacation, Melissa, and address your racial animus issues.

    December 31, 2013 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  17. Harold Reed

    Melissa Harris-Perry a hypocritical racist by any other name is still the same.

    December 31, 2013 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  18. Meki60

    MSNBC does not need to make jokes, they are the joke!

    December 31, 2013 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  19. David

    This pretty much sums up MSNBC:
    "MSNBC has become a club where the smug go to exchange hateful opinions and reassure each other it's acceptable."

    They can isolate themselves as hypocrite champions of the media.

    December 31, 2013 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  20. bobw

    Hummmm....apparently it is ok with conservatives to say hateful things about gays but not to find humor in the Romney camp. Ducky! er.......

    December 31, 2013 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  21. Jim L.

    It is a one way street for Republican. There are sensitive when it comes to Romney family, but have righteous indignation when you are talking about Duck Dynasty stars. Ignorance is ignorance and Racism is racism.

    December 31, 2013 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  22. brett

    much ado about nothing, we shouldn't care what these talking heads think or say

    December 31, 2013 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  23. Snafu

    Is the child a boy or a girl? All the boys in the picture are dressed in blue and the girls in pink. The headline indicated the child was a grandson but is dressed in pink.

    December 31, 2013 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  24. Noneya

    Tired of the conservative political blame game it's childish.

    December 31, 2013 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  25. Subnx

    That baby is sooooo cute. I have the same type of family but I don't think the jokes were offensive. They were jokes. I don't like MSNBC much but everyone needs to lighten up. Has anyone asked Mitt if he was offended?

    December 31, 2013 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
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