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. AdoptiveParentNumber3017

    As an adoptive parent of a child of a different ethnicity I have to say this: Can we please stop the fake moral outrage? Enough already about being "outraged" because a media figure nobody has ever heard of said something and treating it like it is worthy of being front page news.

    December 31, 2013 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  2. NotYoDaddy

    Typical MSNBC intolerant, ignorant, insulting behavior.

    December 31, 2013 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  3. hkirwin

    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.
    ================================

    ..........................Thanks Obama for bringing us all together!

    December 31, 2013 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  4. AdoptiveMom2Seven

    Wow, I wonder what these anchors would say about my family. My husband and I are white, we have 4 white biological children, and we adopted 2 mexican children and a black child. The one who stands out the most is our youngest biological child with red hair, unlike anyone else in the family!

    December 31, 2013 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  5. Rudy NYC

    Maria Rivera-Carvalho

    Here is some advice for the media: let the toxic Mitt Romney rot in peace and leave his family and all polical figures' families out of the game. They don't have to pay for the sins of the parents.
    -----------------------------------
    My, my. How quickly people forget the racist, birther remarks by Romney's youngest son on the campaign trail. Remarks, which I should remind all of you, that he never apologized for, nor his father. They just quietly yanked him off of the campaign stump, and that, as they say, was that.

    December 31, 2013 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  6. Woody

    MSNBC likes to call everyone racists. But that segment was insanely racist. And even through the fake apologies they still harbor the same feelings they did when they made the comments.

    December 31, 2013 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  7. Amanda

    This does not surprise me in the least. All these people see is skin color, and they make it blatantly obvious.

    December 31, 2013 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  8. Car Guy

    Get over it. Let's dis them for the pink and blue outfits... talk stereotypes.

    December 31, 2013 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  9. julnor

    Very typical of liberals. They claim to be so open minded and progressive, but they are vile and vindictive.

    December 31, 2013 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  10. Tim

    MSNBC is pathetic. They have no place in a civil society in discussions among responsible adults. Liberals must be so very embarrassed to have them as their flagship "news" outlet.

    December 31, 2013 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  11. Rick

    This makes me sick! After the Louisiana duck murderer mouthed off equating gays with all sorts of evil and saying that "black folk" were happier under Jim Crow laws, the conservatives went into a rabid frenzy. Now they want to crucify these hosts for poking fun at a picture. Shows how lopsided their views are!!

    December 31, 2013 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  12. Sigi

    I love the display of hypocrisy – this time from the left – I doubt that there's anyone who does not harbor some degree of racism. It's a human condition called tribalism. I know that I have to check myself at times from such notions, but at least I try.

    December 31, 2013 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  13. John

    Does anyone even watch this show?

    December 31, 2013 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  14. Easy

    I'm sorry but it was funny! The problem is these so called news networks are becoming entertanmemt channels and there is no seperation from real news content versus comic relief commentary. If we see this same joke on Conan or Leno we lall laugh.

    December 31, 2013 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  15. Rob

    Why, oh why, cant we just get along...has it really come to this? making fun of a family because they adopted a child of another race? really? stop it!

    December 31, 2013 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  16. lex

    She should resign or be fired. That's the conventional remedy today for that kind of crap.

    December 31, 2013 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  17. brad

    To the MSNBC defenders who claim "they weren't making fun of the baby"...when they sang "one of THESE THINGS is not like other", what specifically do you think they were referring to, if not "the BABY"? Sometimes you just have to acknowledge that your people screwed up. This is one of those times.

    December 31, 2013 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  18. wilnel1984

    This is CNN's front page news story? With bombings going on in Russia, they are concentrating on this? This isn't even a scandal. Where are her First Amendment rights that the right clamors on were missing when (reinstated) Phil Robertson did even worse?

    December 31, 2013 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  19. Jeff

    It is sad when comments like those made on MSNBC define just how petty we humans are! We all need to control our mouths BEFORE we make fools of ourselves.

    Saying, "I'm sorry" after racist rants is not acceptable.

    December 31, 2013 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  20. america is lost

    The producers of that segment/show should be fired. The whole segment was clearly aimed to stir the racial pot. Thats why the first comments out of every panelists mouth were race-oriented. This low brow humor seems a lot more like Sally Jesse Raphael or Jerry Springer hijinx then an allegedly upstanding "Newschannel." Shame on the panelists, particularly MHP who was way out of bounds. Shame on the producers for putting the gun in their hands. And shame on MSNBC for not having the guts to take the high road they prented to represent and do something to right this wrong. They are all two-faced cowards.

    December 31, 2013 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  21. sally

    Good old Sarah Palin...she has to jump in and comment on everything. Will we ever hear the end of this idiot woman?
    Has she nothing better to do than to try and get noticed?

    Unfortunate comments, good that there was a prompt, heartfelt apology. Good for the Romneys. I do wonder, however, how this child will feel as he gets older, being in such a HUGE, WHITE family.

    December 31, 2013 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  22. flavofaze

    Does life in the United States have to always be about politics? Is the Republican or Democratic Party at your family birthday parties, weddings, or funerals? Maybe we all need to step away from politics a little more in 2014...Happy New Year....

    December 31, 2013 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  23. Okay for leftist

    Why aren't the advertising companies pull their sponsorship from MSNBC?

    Who on the left has the big ones below to call for an all out boycott of MSNBC and their advertisers?

    Stop the madness, stop this unskilled network from continuing on the airwaves.

    Be bold, be brave. Be courageous.

    You left wingers.

    December 31, 2013 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  24. You say what

    MSNBC is not better or worse that FOX. Republicans like to moan and groan about moan and groan about MSNBC and Democrats get to complain about everything said on FOX.. it's a wash.... let's just have each of these stations offer a permanent all encompassing apology about anything that is going to be said in the future.. and let it drop.

    December 31, 2013 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  25. Suzy Mack

    Can you imagine how lucky Kieran is to be adopted by a rich family ? Please take me Mitt !

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