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. al

    Seems like a nice family,hope its enough to keep him from running for office again because he would be a huge dissapointment.

    December 30, 2013 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  2. Siestasis

    Tacky, very tacky.

    December 30, 2013 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  3. Dawn

    Where I have never been a fan of Romney, I am concerned over the unkind remarks made against this innocent child. Thank God the child was given a home. Please focus on issues that are important to the welfare of this country for there are a plethora. Clearly this precious child should remain off limits.

    December 30, 2013 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  4. Donna

    The only reason I flip MSNBC is to view mean , nasty , obnoxious behavior long enough to thank my lucky stars I'm not
    a liberated libber . They are cruel to be kind . And they are ugly inside .

    December 30, 2013 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  5. EDDIE

    Oh no there's no hate going on at faux news.None at all.LMAO

    December 30, 2013 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  6. scarf


    Nasty woman. If a white Republican had done the same they would be all over it. Horrible.

    They're all over it now, even though it was done by a supposed "liberal." The difference is, the liberal realizes her mistake and apologizes and tries to learn from it. The conservative defends his/her original statement as "freedom of speech."

    December 30, 2013 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  7. Jane

    More poutrage from conserves. I'm snickering from the hypocrisy.

    December 30, 2013 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  8. PS

    My God. I don't like Romney either but please, leave the grandkids out of it. They're innocent. They should be celebrating that one of the Romneys' children chose adoption and chose to bring that beautiful child into their home where he's receiving unconditional love.

    December 30, 2013 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  9. TomNPitt

    I still don't think he'd get more than three quarters of a percent of the Black Vote.
    He definitely didn't help the other Republican candidates. I don't think the people on MSNBC were being racist; especially when you think that three of the people on the panel were Black. Only Republican's would make this big of a deal over this. Go find another box to rummage through. Thank You!!

    December 30, 2013 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  10. DC Johnny

    This is nothing new from MSNBC. I challenge any of you to watch a 30-minute segment any time during the day and see if you find newsworthy or honest material there.

    It's almost impossible to go 30 minutes without something blatantly and hypocritically intolerant (like the above), or some method of nitpicking an isolated incident and pretending it represents the entire view of the GOP, Conservatives, whites, and Christians.

    December 30, 2013 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  11. Jennifer

    First of all, what a beautiful family! As a parent, and a teacher of young children, children see each other as equals, they don't see "color" they see other children and friends...sadly some are taught prejudice (and modeled it on what should be quality TV). Love grows in the heart, and more people need to learn to be accepting of others no matter their differences, but their character (respect, honesty, etc). May this family continue to grow in love. Happy New Year's blessings to ALL.

    December 30, 2013 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  12. ixnay

    A beautiful family but why is Kieran dressed like one of the girls. All of the boys are in blue, except for Kieran.

    December 30, 2013 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  13. billybill

    Can you imagine how quickly the liberals would cry racism if the roles were reversed in this scenario, if it was a democratic family and the comments were on Fox News. Total hypocrisy.

    December 30, 2013 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  14. drew

    Nasty comments. Equally disturbing is the use of the Romney grandchildren for politics.

    December 30, 2013 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  15. Val

    Ms Perry and the MSNBC panel owe the Romney family, the adopted child , and the adoptive parents a profound apology. The remarks were racist, insensitive, irresponsible, and cruel. I have no time for an organization that allows this type of behavior and bullying to go unpunished. The panel and Ms Perry are "professionals" who should know better. Considering the volume of reporting about racism in general on MSNBC it is unconscionable that these remarks would not be condemned by the organization. MSNBC has lost all credibility with this latest incident.

    December 30, 2013 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  16. Dennis

    Another two faced bigot. Image the uproar if a white conservative made a similar comment about a black family adopting a white child. This provides even more evidence that MSNBC is irrelevant and staffed by hate mongers.

    December 30, 2013 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  17. Harley

    Really, Ms Harris-Perry?? REALLY?!? Hang your head in shame, you low class racist.

    December 30, 2013 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  18. Larry B.

    No matter what party you are a member of or who you are it's really unacceptable to make those kind of negative remarks. It's just not right to do that at all.

    December 30, 2013 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  19. CraigH

    Further proof that the station that touts itself as anti-discrimination is the most discriminatory of all. It will be interesting to see if the editors respond in a way that saves face.

    December 30, 2013 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  20. James B.

    Where's the outrage from Nancy, Harry, Obama and the rest of the liberals? Hypocrites!

    December 30, 2013 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  21. gb0423

    What about freedom of speech? come on Palin and Jindal, why aren't coming out in support of MSNBC's commentators the right to their opinions... Oh, I guess that only applies if you are a Duck Dynasty ignorant, white racist...then it is appropriate to hide behind the 1st it!

    December 30, 2013 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  22. Jules

    The baby is adorable and I am sure is very loved. That is all anybody needs to know.

    December 30, 2013 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  23. CNN reader

    Well, it's liberals doing the mocking, so that makes it okay.

    December 30, 2013 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  24. arch

    If it was my family, I would simply ignore it. It really isn't worth any of my breath in responding. It's nothing new for MsNbc.

    December 30, 2013 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  25. Cosmo

    Once again they left wing shows how classy they are. Such hate from them is the norm though so really not surprised.

    December 30, 2013 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
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