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. TYRANNASAUR

    MSNBC host apologizes after panel makes fun of Romney photo with black grandchild...........

    No matter what I think of Romney as a would be never to be president...I do give him credit for adopting and helping unwanted children....of any kind.

    December 31, 2013 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  2. Name jim

    Racism is racism! Does not matter which direction it comes from! Mike, how does a lib making fun of a black baby being adopted by a while family have anything to do with republicans being accountable?

    December 31, 2013 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  3. Bill Henderson

    Come on people! It's MSNBC! Should we expect less?

    December 31, 2013 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  4. solala

    This is clearly offensive. Children should be off limits and not the butt of jokes. am glad MSNBC was called out for it. But for goodness sakes all you Republicans this board: stop acting like this is how the entire Democratic party acts at all times and that Republicans never bring race up or say anything offensive. Just stop.

    December 31, 2013 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  5. SARGESGIFTSHOP

    With MSNBC around, CNN at least has 1 network worse that they are.

    December 31, 2013 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  6. hurtsdonut

    Liberal extremists have gone off the deep end. They see nothing wrong with their hateful behavior. In their twisted minds they can justify anything they do. Nothing is off limits.

    It is no longer simple political disagreement for them. It is about spreading hate and division. Hurt the "enemy" at any cost. Disgusting.

    December 31, 2013 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  7. ChrisM

    Did any of you bother to listen to the tape of what was actually said. You Americans are such sheep

    December 31, 2013 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  8. TewksburyBob

    Lets see the fallout on this one. Normally the people who make racist remarks are fired. Lets see if the system is level handed.

    December 31, 2013 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  9. Steve

    There needs to be an epic battle between Fox news and MSNBC like in Anchorman.

    December 31, 2013 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  10. K

    Any "apology" that contains language along the lines of, "if I offended anyone..., ....if you feel..., etc.) is no apology at all. You are supposedly making an apology because you did offend people, so don't qualify it, accept that you screwed up and were called on it.

    December 31, 2013 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  11. American Worker

    Liberals of today are not the Liberals of the 60s. Liberals of today are wolves in sheep's wool.
    The Liberals of the 60s warned about the 'Man' (Government). The Liberals of today insist upon being the 'Man'.

    MSNBC and those in Power have been more Vile, Derisive, Divisive, and Malicious than those who they deride.

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

    Anything for a laugh – I guess. This line: "I never intended on hurting anyone..." is really quite striking and ironic. What other purpose do those types of comments serve other than to hurt ? Could we as a nation just every once in a great while acknowledge something nice the other side does ? C'mon left pay the right a compliment, now right your turn say something nice about the left. Yeah, I thought so – all those talking heads would simply explode.

    December 31, 2013 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  13. Carla

    No great surprise. Once again the true colors of the on air folks at MSNBC come through. Again and again, someone from that station (surprised it's still on the air at all), shove both feet into their mouths with bitter, evil commentary, and then trot out a lame apology. My own children have better sense, are better behaved, and have better manners than anyone at that network. You would think adults would know better, but for some reason this bunch never seem to.

    I

    December 31, 2013 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  14. rl

    I admire Mitt's son and daughter-in-law for adopting any child. The ethnic make up doesn't matter. But nothing is said about the everyday person who adopts out of their ethnic group. Are the poor rich people upset because someone said somethng that could be (after a FAR reach) scarcastic or cynical? Does Mitt get as excited with the grandchild as he does with firing people? In my opinion, whie I admire the son and wife, Mitt will no doubt us this for a political advantage.

    December 31, 2013 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  15. Malory Archer

    hkirwin

    faux scandals

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

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

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

    At least she apologized. It's not like we'll ever see such a thing coming from the right when they make much worse comments on a daily basis. In fact, we're told to "get over it". But that pretty much sums up the right.

    December 31, 2013 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  16. Johnny

    As a black, I find it offensive that someone would make fun of trying to make life better for a child with no parents.

    December 31, 2013 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  17. Malory Archer

    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.

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

    Yeah, except the duck guy wasn't fired, and he's back on the show.

    December 31, 2013 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  18. Carla

    As long as people continue to CHOOSE to be offended, offense will be freely available for the taking. I'm 99% certain the Romneys weren't offended, they have more class than that. The media is fanning this people. Are you really going to continue to let them tell you what you should and should not be offended over?

    December 31, 2013 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  19. Bill

    Had to read this twice to see what was so offensive and I still must be missing something– and I am an adoptive father of a bi-racial child. Can anyone understand the difference between a few humorous comments and REAL offensive, deliberate and hurtful comments?

    December 31, 2013 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  20. nclaw441

    How do we have any basis for believing that the so-called apologies are sincere? And, by the way, imagine the reaction if the joke had been made about Bill DeBlosio or John Kerry.

    December 31, 2013 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  21. Liberal

    What is it with MSNBC and its cast of irresponsible news staff ? Its getting old and embarassing.

    December 31, 2013 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  22. solala

    This is clearly offensive. Children should be off limits and not the punchline of jokes. I am glad MSNBC was called out for it. But for goodness sakes all you Republicans this board: stop acting like this is how the entire Democratic party acts at all times and that Republicans never bring race up or say anything offensive. Just stop.

    December 31, 2013 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  23. Tammy

    Conservatives can shut up about this story. These are the same people who support Rush Limdough YET they are upset over MSNBC for speaking the truth. Funny how they have this kid on Mitts lap. Photo PR move. Folks can say what they want on here, in the real world, most people who are not posting know MSNBC is correct in what they said.

    December 31, 2013 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  24. Dana from Tulsa

    Liberals often espouse racial diversity, but actions speak more loudly than words. What I find interesting is that many conservatives or evangelical Christians (the butt of frequent media jokes) are the people actually doing these inter-racial adoptions. And now, the most liberal media outlet is poking fun at an inter-racial adoption?

    December 31, 2013 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  25. MD

    I'm surprised the comments were made at all. Giving any child a home is a wonderful, and loving thing to do. I think the Romeny's deserve a lot better of an apology than that. More like they all ought to apologize in person! They love this child, and have the means to give him a wonderful life, and he deserves a loving, caring home. They can provide that for him. If I could afford to adopt a child, I would. We would love to have a child. Ethnicity does not matter. Would the lady have an issue with a black family adopting a white child? I wouldn't! Biology doesn't mean everything. Good for the Romney's for giving him a nice, loving, home. 🙂

    December 31, 2013 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
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