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. Anonymous

    I really don't see the big deal. We have become way over sensitive as a society...mostly thanks to the media and political parties. The left says something the right doesn't like and the right blows it up into something bigger than it is. The right says something the left doesn't like and they do the same. Stop feeding into the BS. Instead of coming together, we're getting pushed further apart.

    December 31, 2013 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  2. Dave

    This woman is too much. Creates a twitter hash-tag for herself in her "apology". Real cute.

    December 31, 2013 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  3. Brian

    If there wasn't a double standard, MSNBC would be raking themselves through the mud for days to come, if there wasn't a double standard.

    December 31, 2013 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  4. concernedGrndma

    What a hypocritical bubblehead. Should be fired.

    December 31, 2013 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  5. destroyerofeconomies

    This is exactly how all liberals feel in reality.hate is what drives them

    December 31, 2013 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  6. joilpem

    This is what some people have been saying all along....people forget...these people (MSNBC, Fox, Limbaugh, Hannity) are entertainers...they are not new channels...they are like Maury, Springer and the like. I'm not suprised when they say something stupid....what is scarey is that most Americans go to these channels to learn facts.

    December 31, 2013 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  7. Dan Bruce

    Now. if Romney will apologize for all the insensitive things he has said, all will be forgiven. He is already mostly forgotten.

    December 31, 2013 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  8. Mark

    If a conservative outlet did something like this, Al Sharpton would be all over it.

    December 31, 2013 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  9. Bobby d

    Calm down people... No matter how offensive anything said on msnbc is, the fact is, there are only four people watching at anytime. There highest rated program is lockup, which has nothing to do with news and come on at midnight

    December 31, 2013 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  10. Big Red

    I really don't see the big deal. We have become way over sensitive as a society...mostly thanks to the media and political parties. The left says something the right doesn't like and the right blows it up into something bigger than it is. The right says something the left doesn't like and they do the same. Stop feeding into the BS. Instead of coming together, we're getting pushed further apart.

    December 31, 2013 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  11. billbfit

    Another ignorant move by the idiotic leftist Demos. The Republicans will win back the White House back, and I'm not even a Republican..

    December 31, 2013 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  12. Rob

    I guess PC does not apply to the left. What's funny is that the idiot couldn't even sing the song correctly. If you're going to slam someone, at least do it properly.

    December 31, 2013 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  13. loyalright

    If every parent held the same values, morals, and love that the Romney's do, this country would be so much better.

    December 31, 2013 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  14. Becca

    Life today is very so much about POLITICS and what ever makes news! So there fore children suffer badly because of these 2 reasons. I do not care for this man my self but for sure I would not poke fun at child in his family no matter if the child is adopted or not and neither would I poke fun at a childs color whom he adopted or his family has adopted.

    December 31, 2013 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  15. M Weaver

    Where are the left wing groups calling for MSNBC to fire the commentator? Where is Rev jackson demanding MSNBC meet with him. Oh ye brood of vipers!

    December 31, 2013 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  16. ChrisM

    MSNBC apologized. Not like your rwnjs Duck Dynasty guy

    December 31, 2013 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  17. bsrasmus

    The Republican party is open to people of all races, creeds, national origin, etc. Perhaps the core values of the Republican party - personal responsibility, for example - doesn't appeal to people of all races. That might explain the relative lack of diversity in the Republican party.

    December 31, 2013 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  18. rc

    Wow, we are no longer allowed to joke in this country. What the hell happened? Right wing, left wing, cut it out already. It's humor which is healing. We're allowed to make fun of our Presidents, leaders, diversity, lack of diversity etc. That's what makes it America. If you want people beheaded for mocking there are plenty of countries with Sharia laws that will be glad to fulfill your thirst for blood. But while you're here, lighten up.

    December 31, 2013 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  19. Egads

    Absoulutely off limits....Leave the family alone

    December 31, 2013 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  20. darkrunner1975

    Does this surprise anyone?

    The people at MSNBC are some of the most miserable, vitriolic, venom spewing, racist people in this world. They continue to look for something to fill their vapid lives, but they can't find it,.

    December 31, 2013 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  21. Seth

    Wow........just WOW. Try to do some good in this world and the media(social OR news) makes you pay for it!

    December 31, 2013 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  22. Rod

    Some might say Romney adopted the child to win presidency.

    But at least he is adopting, more families should adopt more children as the world population rises.

    December 31, 2013 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  23. joilpem

    This is what some people have been saying all along....people forget...these people (MSNBC, Fox, Limbaugh, Hannity) are entertainers...they are not new channels...they are like Maury, Springer and the like. I'm not suprised when they say something dumb....what is scarey is that most Americans go to these channels to learn facts.

    December 31, 2013 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  24. Jim1973

    very insensitive....but I get it. What I really don't like is that their comments made me feel like defending the romney's.

    December 31, 2013 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  25. Jan

    This was not just one comment. This was a discussion on the child. At what point did Melissa see how hateful and hurtful this was, especially considering her own background and her own agenda. Had Fox news done this Melissa, would have been all over them, for their bigotry. Wear it well Melissa.

    December 31, 2013 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106