December 30th, 2013
05:27 PM ET
9 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. Mike500

    Proving once again that the Left are nothing but flaming hypocrites. As if we needed it proven again.

    December 31, 2013 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  2. Murray

    Did anyone notice the 2 African Americans on the panel? Lighten up . Unless I missed it, Is Romney or his family upset?? Also racism is alive and well in the Romney family, his son in the last election. Perhaps this adoption might be a way to cover-up for his racist son. Carry on Conservatives, win at any cost or action.

    December 31, 2013 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  3. jp

    I will say, if not, for this article, I would have never heard of the remarks. Never watch MSNBC for their bias in reporting.

    December 31, 2013 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  4. ann

    wow I can't believe anyone in the media would remotely think that saying stuff like that is not going to cause controversy. Not to mention that is pretty mean. good thing I don't watch the show. I definitely won't be watching it in the future either.

    December 31, 2013 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  5. Randy Darsh

    What hypocrisy coming from the one of the most liberal media "news" organizations. The host should be fired immediately. If Fox news ever made a comment like this MSNBC would demand the same.

    December 31, 2013 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  6. wilnel1984

    I saw the whole clip and especially the one regarding the "outlandish" comments. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Phil Robertson goes off on how black folks were happy about segregation and gets a two-week vacation. Melissa Harris-Perry starts off saying the baby is "absolutely gorgeous" and jokes about Kanye West as an in-law and you people go berserk?! That part of the segment was less than 30 seconds. The jokes were not even that funny. That is all. Orwell was right. Conservatives do think that they are more equal than others.

    December 31, 2013 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  7. Thomas

    Really? Wow. The Romneys can provide a home for this child much better than this so-called host.

    December 31, 2013 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  8. Steve

    Poor liberals on the defense. Imagine their outrage if this happened on Fox. Their logic is comical

    December 31, 2013 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  9. mydogredwald

    The real news about Mitt Romney isn't his adopted black grandchild. It would be real journalism if the media reported solid news like the fact that Mittens is being sued in a Federal court under the RICO laws. This stuff about his grandchild is distraction and fluff.

    December 31, 2013 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  10. KC

    I'm waiting for Sarah Palin to come out and defend MSNBC's right to free speech...

    December 31, 2013 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  11. VJ

    If duck dynasty can say anything about LGBT and blacks – AE is reinstating the show. On the flip side, Martin Bashir got fired, now Melissa Harris Perry's turn... What a lame media??? To me, anyone who is poking jokes or discrediting others should deserved to be removed or replaced. Right always wins no matter what they say, on the flip side, Left always loss no matter what they say. Journalism at its finest.

    December 31, 2013 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  12. Get used to IT tea potty! 3 more yrs to spew ur hate @Obama

    America has become a land of wussies!!! It's free speech people.....if you are not offended by what the Duck Dynasty ditto head said ablout blacks and gays then I dont see any reason why you should be whinning about this really!!!

    FAUX NEWS say stuff like this about Obama all the time...Lighten up folks!!!!

    December 31, 2013 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  13. elucidated1

    As a parent of an adopted child, I do appreciate the Romney family for this move. But this outrage is just silly and yet not surprising from the faux indignant rigtht. Heck, 56% of the Republicans don't even believe in evolution!

    December 31, 2013 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  14. Bill Wilson

    I suspect that those of you who say this is not abig deal would not say that if the shoe was on the other foot. Libs and progressives are genreally racist and antisemetic.

    December 31, 2013 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  15. keetakat

    What a beautiful child, and a lovely family.

    December 31, 2013 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  16. Brian from DC

    Oh please. The GOP has attacked President Obama from the get-go, including on his birth certificate and heritage, and please don't tell me that race was not involved or I'll break into convulsions of laughter.

    December 31, 2013 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  17. Gaile

    I find her comments very offensive. As women who has adopted 2biracial children the statement is unforgivable. All children need a home with loving parents. MSNbC has once again gone to far. Shame on you! Will not be watching that cable news net work anytime soon!

    December 31, 2013 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  18. Liberals are hypocrites

    I wonder if MSNBC will "indefinitely suspend" these hosts for making fun of an innocent child, and where are the celebrities speaking out against the hosts?

    Liberal, whoops I mean communist hypocrites.

    December 31, 2013 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  19. CNN_Tagger

    The truth is libs are more racist than cons are. Phil Robertson was suspended for less than this.

    December 31, 2013 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  20. JoseKuervo

    So..... MSNBC does once what Fox news does every day and this is news?

    December 31, 2013 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  21. Siestasis

    So tacky, Way to lose crediability.

    December 31, 2013 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  22. don in albuquerque

    Since a black man was elected POTUS I have heard things said on the news and elsewhere that after Selma I thought I would never hear again. That's on both sides of the fence. We really have not come very far, have we.

    December 31, 2013 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  23. Nelson

    MSNBC is dying for ratings. They have people in positions that struggle to conjugate a verb. The only method of broadcast is sensationalism. They are a joke. Comcast will change the format.

    December 31, 2013 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  24. Gilmore

    I'm just grateful that Romney and his wacky cult, with its secret doctrine and secret rituals, and endless dishonest PR, and constant shouts of "Bigot!," are not any where near the White House.

    December 31, 2013 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  25. Obama the Messiah

    They have the right to say what they did, but it is tasteless. If people find it insulting, don't watch. People on the left love this stuff as it makes them feel more superior and those on the right love Fox. Hmm. Which network is doing better with more viewership???

    December 31, 2013 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
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