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. duh

    So Phil robertson says something that some people don't agree with the media lynchs him. Now media makes a nasty comment all they say is opps i am sorry it's all good. Where you at gladd? oh that's right jesse don't step on the media toes they won't put your racist butt on t.v

    December 31, 2013 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  2. Coffee Party

    Honestly, who cares.

    Just like the duck dynasty guy, let the viewers decide.

    If the viewers are totally offended and turn away from MSNBC, then the advertisers will leave.

    Until then, please leave the hypocritical comments to yourselves. I bet the majority of posters in this article are the same ones who were partially racist towards Obama.

    December 31, 2013 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  3. MommaG

    What a beautiful little boy. I'm not a Romney fan, however on a personal level I support anyone who opens their home and heart to any child regardless of race.

    That being said, to the conservatives who paint all liberals with the same brush as those who made these nasty statements. Shame on you as well – you are just as bad.

    Can we not behave as adults and realize that what one person does or says is not a reflection on an entire group.

    December 31, 2013 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  4. JRS

    And then they also mention that holding an umbrella for Obama is a good use for a marine. I hate MSNBC even more than I did before!!! These guys have no clue of reality!!

    December 31, 2013 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  5. Okay for leftist

    So it's okay for the leftist media group at MSNBC to degrade people, but God forbid if Foxnews host or A&E Duck Dynasty members say something outrageous.

    Double standards or just poor journalism on the part of MSNBC?

    Who is getting fired at MSNBC?

    Besides the ratings speak for themselves.

    December 31, 2013 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  6. Gator

    Liberal hypocrisy at its usual.

    December 31, 2013 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  7. Dominican mama 4 Obama


    There is no way of getting around it ... this is awfully distasteful coming from those who ought to know better
    Hi there my friend! Long time no hear as I've been on sporadic vacations during the holidays.
    We're in agreement of course, and you're right they should've known better.
    It is getting harder to find worthwihile programs to watch on tv these days, ain't it?
    The very best in the New Year to you and your family Lynda!

    December 31, 2013 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  8. Name

    The baby does stand out. As the only red haired person in my ENTIRE family, close and extended, I stand out as well. I've heard every joke (my personal fav: "the mailman must've had red hair"). As a child, it did hurt and insinuated that I didn't belong. When kids are involved, people should be sensitive. Period. But, as liberals, you'd think they would have skipped the opportunity to polarize in the name comedy. This demonstrates that liberals really are so much more diverse and open minded than their republican counterparts... NOT!

    December 31, 2013 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  9. Kenny

    How do otherwise intelligent people, in full view of the world, get so stupid. These fools, on either side of the political fence, need to lose their jobs. I was not a fan of Mitt's but this is (or should not be) about him. A child needed a home and Mitt's family gave it one. That is commendable regardless of race. Another poster here suggested msnbc and fox news go away...I agree completely...

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

    It is a matter of freedom of speech. They have the right to say it, just like that DD guy.

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

    MSNBC: run by vile, hateful people, staffed by vile hateful people, guests are vile hateful people and watched by vile hateful people. There is nothing else there.

    December 31, 2013 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  12. DrDanno

    Phil Robertson says this is a free speech issue.

    December 31, 2013 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  13. Mike

    Not very offensive at all. The adoption was a political ploy to appear more liberal.

    December 31, 2013 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  14. Cooramoor

    Ah, those loving liberals. Bless there lil hearts.

    December 31, 2013 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  15. m123

    Of course since Obama and Michelle are the only people watching MSNBC, it really didn't matter

    December 31, 2013 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  16. No one

    As amusing as this story may be, why does it need the superbold headline, did someone die?

    December 31, 2013 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  17. Fed Up

    Why anyone would bother to watch or listen to ANYTHING coming from a garbage channel like MSNBC is amazing.They put the most liberal ,untrustworthy and irrelevant people on the air you can imagine.

    December 31, 2013 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  18. Anonymous

    MSNBC is simply not worth watching by any normal human being.

    December 31, 2013 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  19. Anonymous

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

    That is simpl Lee. those people adopted with good intensions. The Romney's have an agenda. Go back and listen to old them. Sorry I am not buying it. And the kid just happen to be sitting on Mitts lap. Give me a break. That is NOT racist, that is calling it like it is. MSNBC is right to say what they said.

    December 31, 2013 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  20. David

    MSNBC, FoxNews and CNN are all tasteless sensationalist new organizations. Why is this even surprising.

    December 31, 2013 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  21. jacksays

    duck dynasty guy is back on the air because his suspension is over, no other reason.

    you people do know the difference between terminated (fired) and suspended, rigiht? suspended... like giving a child a time out. it comes to an end. it is not the same as being fired. *sigh*

    as for the jokes, well, jokes are jokes. some are funny, some are not. people (ALL people) need to grow a thicker skin and stop being offended at every glance and syllable. as someone else pointed out, people are being BLOWN UP AND KILLED in Russia this week and you people are grousing over harmless jokes.

    December 31, 2013 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  22. Maria

    Why is this news at all. As if Republicans don't ever make fun of anyone ?? What about Miss Kelly on Fox,and she didn't even apologize.

    December 31, 2013 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  23. AceRyder

    Are people seriously this crazy – calling this a political ploy? You really think someone would committ to raising a child for political reasons? Nuts.

    December 31, 2013 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  24. King

    Oh my GOD CNN has the worst reporting around. He did not make an attack on the kid, he made fun of the RNC/GOP. And the joke was funny. He in no way made fun of Romney or that adorable baby.

    December 31, 2013 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  25. Dean Barr

    As a proud lefty, I am hugely offended by her comments. But the difference between us lefties and those on the right is that we won't try to make excuses or pretend it wasn't what it was, racist. We will hold her accountable for it, because it is counter to what we actually believe.....

    December 31, 2013 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
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