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. jimmy

    I'm amazed the msnbc panelists had time to make fun of Romney's adopted grandkid in between their pathetic attempts to paint obamacare as a wild success.

    December 31, 2013 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  2. wrm

    And Fox is supposed to be the one that's bad? Wow.

    December 31, 2013 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  3. pat thompson

    Ah, another example of the racist, hypocritical, liberal media.

    December 31, 2013 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  4. Anonymous

    "An MSNBC host apologized Tuesday morning after she and panelists on her weekend program faced criticism after poking fun at a photo of Mitt Romney, his wife and their nearly two dozen grandchildren,"

    And here we are always being told by feminists that women are compassionate and tolerant.

    December 31, 2013 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  5. doug mckenzie

    Those who call others bigots are usually the real bigots.

    December 31, 2013 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  6. Ben

    As the parent of adopted twin girls (China), I find this disgusting. Go after a politician on his views, opinions, etc., but don't EVER go after someone's kids or family. It doesn't matter if the recipient is right wing, left wing, whatever – the same for the media outlet; none of this matters. Kids and family are off limits. MSNBC should be ashamed of themselves and the CEO should call Mr Romney and his family and personally apologize.

    December 31, 2013 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  7. spokdlo

    What is funny is why do the mormons have to dress alike?

    December 31, 2013 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  8. marvalea

    HZ, you are correct ... as a black woman raised as a child in a large, white Mormon family, Melissa Harris-Perry most certainly has the right to express her views – and likely had NO intent on offending anyone. The others' statements were tasteless but certainly not offensive. It is too easy to scream "racism" when an African-American is present.

    December 31, 2013 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  9. truebluedetroiter

    These people at MSNBC are bottom feeders. They cannot, at any time, come up with intelligent comments. They just spew crap.

    December 31, 2013 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  10. cks

    It is one thing to make tasteless comments/jokes about politicians. Their families should be off limits. Period. The fact that the host and her guests found nothing wrong (at first) about what they said speaks volumes. That they "apologized" only after many (of their viewers) found their comments offensive speaks volumes.

    It seems that the guests on the show felt that they could make points against the GOP, Mormonism, and the wealthy all in one fell swoop.

    December 31, 2013 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  11. TONE

    The fake outrage by the righties. do you all even care, and it seem like you righties are using this moment to spew more hate.

    December 31, 2013 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  12. Rexall

    While the Republicans are feigning outrage on behalf of African Americans they are in the process of dismantling the safety net that millions of all races rely on and returning to Jim Crow laws in the south in terms of voting

    So spare me if I think they Republicans really don't give a darn. Who are the real racists here? The tea party and the Republican Party have been largely angry white men for years. The world has passed them by.

    The fact is this little boy hit the adoption lottery and will probably grow up as out if touch as the Romneys are – regardless if his race.

    December 31, 2013 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  13. Todd

    Everyone on that panel/show should be fired. That's pathetic!

    December 31, 2013 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  14. frontgatee

    No need to apologize. I think it's damned funny.

    December 31, 2013 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  15. Stan Jenkins

    Sarah Palin would say Harris-Perry has the first amendment right to say whatever she wants.

    December 31, 2013 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  16. Surthurfurd

    I am tired of the pleasure people find at mocking innocents. It does not matter what "political" or "religious" point of view you want to make... mocking innocents is a weakness. Sadly, we often demand our right to mock innocents while demanding the rights of others to defend themselves be silenced.

    Treat others with respect and empathy.

    December 31, 2013 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  17. Offended

    It seems that this controversy is one one directional. Only the Romney's feelings are discussed. Kayne and Kim are likely offended by this statement as well.

    Life is too short to be mean.

    December 31, 2013 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  18. Ron

    MSNBC needs to lighten up, those comments were actually very funny. I do not want to live in a society that can't laugh.

    December 31, 2013 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  19. Smart

    We All have the Same Color Blood!!! What is on the OutSide It Should Not Matter!!! When we are cut open,we are all the same!!!

    December 31, 2013 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  20. Knots

    United Anerica we are under Obama. He seeks not to divide, nor do the media outlets favored by his voters. How evident is THAT. Lol

    December 31, 2013 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  21. jcvet33

    Liberals are far and away the real racists.

    December 31, 2013 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  22. Bob123

    Sigi

    I love the display of hypocrisy

    ---------------------

    I know! The right wing insults people daily in the most vile ways, and then they whine about THIS???

    December 31, 2013 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  23. Colo001

    Wow... of all things to go after. Says a lot about lack of character and beliefs. Shameful

    December 31, 2013 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  24. American Worker

    MSNBC has been worse than those whom they deride.

    December 31, 2013 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  25. Tutuvabene

    Ah America. The land of the offended.

    December 31, 2013 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
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