December 30th, 2013
05:27 PM ET
8 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. John

    no one has a sense of humor anymore...we make comedians apologize, (steve martin) the lists goes on.....this isn't that "big of thing"

    December 31, 2013 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  2. GOP = Greed Over People

    MSNBC has apologized, and NOW GOD is back on their side and has forgiven them.

    Isn't that how in works in the GOP "chri$tian" world?

    December 31, 2013 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  3. MCP123

    "MSNBC has been worse than those whom they deride."

    Really? How many did Romney offend with his comments about those that just aren't as rich as them? Maybe they should go open sandwich shops or something.

    December 31, 2013 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  4. DonJuan1943

    I agree with MommaG above. All of these people in this story are good people. Have we lost the ability to openly hear each other, warmly laugh at each other, and laugh at ourselves?! It is no wonder that indigestion and hemmorhoids are two of our greatest national health conditions. Happy New Year, for God's sake!

    December 31, 2013 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  5. She's a Racist

    She's clearly a racist. Her apology is not an apology - merely a sarcastic appeasement. Get her off the air.

    December 31, 2013 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  6. elizabeth M Carson

    One of there "things" is not like the other? Did Sesame St uses humans as 'things " in their song?
    When did we respect Chelsea Clinton and the Obama daughters from the press wrath? -Always. So let's be honest and do unto others what we would want done unto us.

    December 31, 2013 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  7. ivan

    No apology needed.

    December 31, 2013 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  8. skimeister

    Racism is alive and well. Thank you MSNBC for perpetuating it.

    December 31, 2013 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  9. MCP123

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

    Amusing... so making a comedic joke about the lack of diversity in the republican party is "hate" but deriding and excluding entire races of people from your political party isn't.

    December 31, 2013 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  10. Bobbyvv

    To those that think this is feigned hate, give me a break. It is always ok as long as your side does it, right? Think you would be saying that if this was the other way around? I did not hear the comments so I cannot say how good/bad but people will defend anything as long as 'their' side does it (both sides)

    December 31, 2013 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  11. Lynda/Minnesota

    Dominican mama 4 Obama

    There is no way of getting around it ... this is awfully distasteful coming from those who ought to know better
    Hi there my friend! Long time no hear as I've been on sporadic vacations during the holidays.
    We're in agreement of course, and you're right they should've known better.
    It is getting harder to find worthwihile programs to watch on tv these days, ain't it?
    The very best in the New Year to you and your family Lynda!

    The very best in the New Year to you and your family as well, Dominican mama! For reason's you will understand, I am limited to my conversation topics.

    December 31, 2013 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  12. Brad

    Saying there is nothing unusual about that is ignoring some pretty significant facts about American culture, especially in the current socio-political climate, and especially considering we're looking at a politicians family.

    December 31, 2013 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  13. Eagle0831

    You mean MSNBC apologized to both their viewers?

    December 31, 2013 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  14. Mark

    Stupidity and hypocrisy claim both ends of the political spectrum as home.

    December 31, 2013 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  15. jp

    I am surprised they MSNBC even was called out on this. Some can say anything, but the rest of us must be PC at all times.

    December 31, 2013 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  16. Colleen Meegan

    I really have nothing to say about the original comment, but the two people that Don Lemon interviewed were as rude as can be. They did not listen to one another and kept interrupting. Especially the woman, who just kept talking louder & louder, as if she shouted her point would be clearer. Bad manners, people.

    December 31, 2013 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  17. Dale M

    If she is not suspended from her position this will continue to show the "left" is more than just biased. This comment should outrage ALL Americans. As a adoptive parent i am offended and outrage how in this day and age anyone can make a comment like this and get away with in on a national new broadcast as a JOKE. You young lady are the JOKE and you should be held to a greater standard by the position you hold. Obviously if someone on the right side would have made a similar comments Jesse Jackson and all his wanna bees would be all over this racist comment. MSNBC stand up for something that is right and suspend this lady NOW!!!!!

    December 31, 2013 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  18. Joe

    If this happened to a democratic family all the liberals would be screaming that they should all be fired. Protests at the station and everything else. But since he is a republican I guess it's ok,to make fun of a little child. All people involved in this should be fired also after their apologies. I am tired of the double standerd and where is Sharpton and Jackson at for making fun of a black kid they should be out protesting also.

    December 31, 2013 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  19. Great Snowman

    Any time someone on the left says something stupid or offensive, their first response is to point out something stupid thst someone on the right has said or done, Can we just agree that there is no shortage of idiots on either side?

    December 31, 2013 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  20. Smart

    Saying Sorry to the Wrong doing that was done, it is way too Late!! Think Twice before you Speak!

    December 31, 2013 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  21. tom

    I could see a joke like this maybe on SNL and even that would be borderline in poor taste but coming from MSNBC? The station that screams racism even when there is none and touts their progressive thinking as if they are intectually superior to anyone whose opposes their agenda. Say what you want about Romney but leave his family alone. His family never wanted him to run for office and this is the reason why. The left media was brutal towards this family....making fun of his wife's hair, saying she never worked a day in her life despite raising 5 boys, ect. The far left has been so hypocritical in the last couple of years...screaming for tolerance but have no idea how to have good behavior themselves.

    December 31, 2013 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  22. richardine

    Once again, MSNBC shows its true colors. Mitt Romney was far too much of a gentleman for them; being a decent human being is not cool enough. They make me utterly sick, and sad for the state of our society. Get a life.

    December 31, 2013 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  23. Anonymous

    Always the liberal agenda. Zero moral responsibility for hating on white people who can adopt without barriers or borders. This fake MSNBC "african-american" specialist has been given the airwaves to spout bigotry, racism etc. IT all depends on who the victim if there will be a reaction. If the victim is an ethnic minority or gay there will be a firing. If the victim is a religious white conservative, there will be a promotion.

    December 31, 2013 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  24. iqbal khan

    This is a beautiful adoption. The adopted child is going to have a wonderful loving family. This is what America is all about. Honest, decent loving people all across America.
    A million salutes to the Ramney family.

    December 31, 2013 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  25. wrm

    You're not sorry for saying it, you're sorry because even your own choir felt uncomfortable with what you said, and now you're required to pretend to be sorry.

    December 31, 2013 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
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