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. Malory Archer

    Bob

    MSNBC needs to step up and ban this woman from the airwaves.

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Right after faux newz and all their "journalists" and EVERY SINGLE a.m. radio personality are banished from the media spotlight for life.

    December 31, 2013 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  2. downbytheriver

    Look! Christmas came back for seconds! Republicans get the rare opportunity to stick it to racially-insensitive liberals... wait, what's that? The Republican National Committee just 30 days ago gives credit to Rosa Parks for 'ending racism'? Okay, we're back.

    December 31, 2013 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  3. eric

    WOW!!! The left with their constant mantra of gay marriage and families come in all shapes, sizes, colors, blah, blah blah.

    December 31, 2013 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  4. Tom Perry

    don't people have "brakes" anymore? Such as "I have this thought but wait, that's so insensitive I can't say that!" What happened to that thought process?

    December 31, 2013 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  5. Peace

    Awful. Anyone with the right thinking never talk about people's kids if it is not a compliment. It is bullying. Nothing funny here. Oh! ya, Professor of knocking down kids.

    December 31, 2013 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  6. Jdplumsy

    The problem with America is shown in this article... Unlike other countries where the people look the same like China, Korea, Mexico. America is supposed to be a country where we all band together in with our different ethnic backgrounds and be one... Blessed the day when all Americans regardless of their background can live together in peace...

    December 31, 2013 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  7. Matt

    It's a Christmas miracle. The racist hatemongers at MSNBC finally apologized for something.

    December 31, 2013 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  8. betterdays

    "What 99% of the other commenters said..." Amusingly, so few people pay any attention whatsoever to MSNBC that it took two days for other media to even notice that this had happened. Every time I click through MSNBC on my television, even for five seconds, I either see someone acting smug and intellectually superior while mocking someone else's beliefs, or a commercial.

    December 31, 2013 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  9. Mary Illinois

    Ben must be planning on running for a political office!!!

    December 31, 2013 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  10. Harry

    MSNBC: a clown show on par with SNL.

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

    .Republican party's attempt at diversity. Class

    December 31, 2013 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  12. hkirwin

    faux scandals

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

    LOL....pretty much sums up the left huh.

    December 31, 2013 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  13. Steve Niemyer

    We all say stupid things from time to time.

    December 31, 2013 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  14. werredesigns

    I agree they have the right to say anything they want. But it does go to show you who is looking at skin color, and what they truly believe. That is all I have said from the begining. Robinson has the right to say what he wants they have the right to say what they want but no one has tried to remove them from the airwaves. There is no right to not be offended.
    Everyone sing "One of these presidents is not like the other, One of these presidents just doesn't belong...". Or for the 1960s protestors, "Where have all the Bigots gone, long time passing. Where have all the bigots gone, long time ago...."

    December 31, 2013 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  15. antes

    As the greatest defenders of racial equality, I'm sure Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton will soon be swooping in to defend the Romney family.
    – Any moment now.
    – We're still waiting.
    – Are those crickets I hear?

    December 31, 2013 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  16. Robyn

    The ethnicity of the grandchild is irrelevant.
    (Although I really hope it was not chosen by a focus group.)
    It is the gender assigned matching outfits are creeping me out.

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

    Rightly so, Harris-Perry and other MSNBC hosts and correspondents have ripped apart the conservative FOX News for making outrageous, insensitive comments in the past. This disgusting, provincial mindset expressed by MHP & her correspondents far transcends anything unsettling that FOX News has ever broadcast. It dramatically damages the reputation of not only Melissa Harris-Perry, but also of MSNBC as a network.This issue goes beyond party lines; there is no place for insensitivity like this in 2014.

    December 31, 2013 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  18. Kenny

    She will be off the air soon, but to those who complained about DD's Phil being fired, this is why he was, the same sort of rubbish. Now I hear him talking to a bunch of guys about marrying girls when they are still 15 or 16, before they are 20. That because of the bible they can hunt and without it hunting would not/could not exist. He, this woman from msnbc, palin, rush, martin bashir, the donald, all need be out of the limelight. Let those who are ready to build a good country get together and do it. I don't care to hear from any of these fools anymore...

    December 31, 2013 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  19. Truck

    Not acceptable.All these "commentators" left or right should be fired for racial comments. Time for the race card to be thrown out of the deck....

    December 31, 2013 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  20. Terry

    What these hypocritical people need to apologize for is their vicious attacks on anyone who disagrees with them. MSNBC, like the NYT, has absolutely no journalistic integrity. They are purely political advocacy organizations. We need dispassionate, unbiased, and HONEST journalists. MSNBC is just the most obvious example of a press that has lost its way and let us all down.

    December 31, 2013 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  21. HZ

    Some of you must not have even read the article since it says the woman who made the comment IS a black woman who grew up in a white mormon home! I think she has the right to make a joke that doesn't even sound mean spirited. I wish some of you were complaining about all the racist filth in internet forums.

    December 31, 2013 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  22. magpie

    Behind all the comments from the people on the MHP show is some history not only regarding the current GOP but the Mormons. African Americans in the Mormon church compose a very, very, very small percentage. Was this a way perhaps of the Mormons reaching out? Would like to see how this child is faring as time passes by.

    December 31, 2013 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  23. Escher

    Fox News does stuff like this all the time and take heat for it. The difference: the folks at MSNBC will actually APOLOGIZE.

    December 31, 2013 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  24. jack

    So, they showed their true color…..Racist.

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

    If that is the worst racism that comes from MSNBC, they are mere amateurs compared to Fox News.

    December 31, 2013 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
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