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. No one

    Its a laughing matter, that anyone cares about the Romneys, not a statement about them, just who cares? Of the many things you could put up as the superbold headline, why this?

    December 31, 2013 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  2. Brandi

    As a family who has adopted transracially twice, I am deeply offended. No matter how the little boy came to be part of their family, I am sure he is as loved as ALL of my children are. People need to recognize that not everybody in a family looks like each other. That doesn't mean they're not a family.

    December 31, 2013 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  3. jimstaro

    Anything Harris-Perry or guests might have said, while insensitive, is greatly mild compared to what's been said pointed directed at her, and others, by certain elements in our society that quickly go about their intolerance and as quick ignore what they and theirs come out with!!!!!! As they also claim being a part of a religious ideology and teachings of they also ignore!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    December 31, 2013 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  4. Anonymous

    And Republicans are the party of intolerance and racism? Yeah...right...

    December 31, 2013 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  5. al

    i'm waitin for fox's sara palin apologize for some stupid stuff she says, or that duck guy. But they hadn't the decency.

    December 31, 2013 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  6. Richard L Smith

    I am really curious as to why the child was dressed in obviously female colored attire? I saw the picture and immediately assumed it was a girl. The writer should have been more specific, using 'grandson' as opposed to 'grandchild'. I had to go back and re-read the entire article as I seemed to have skimmed over the 'North West' daughter line.

    December 31, 2013 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  7. Republican who supports President Obama

    Why are we talking about this family? He traversed the country lying about the president's adminstration for years, stood in silence while people booed a gay serviceman, did nothing to ask for respect for our President from the vile people in the Republican party. He lost the election and the only thing he did right was to keep his mouth shut since then.

    The actions of the Republican party since 2008 should be called out and corrected before ANYONE from the right complains over this simple and harmless joke.

    December 31, 2013 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  8. surefooted1

    Just goes to show the MSNBC is the same as FoxNews...

    December 31, 2013 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  9. Walter

    Why was he in the wrong color uniform?

    December 31, 2013 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  10. ron

    Let's see if Jesse Jackson demands a meeting with MSNBC management over this

    December 31, 2013 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  11. JoseKuervo

    Soooo... you conservatives only scream 1st amendment when it is convenient for you.

    December 31, 2013 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  12. holam

    Who is the racist now?? It certainly isn't the Romneys. I would really examine myself if I were them. Hypocrites.

    December 31, 2013 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  13. Republiker

    The vile and inept Mellisa Harris-Perry, as well as MSNBC, just learned how offensive the democrat mindset has become.

    December 31, 2013 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  14. Cutedog2

    Interesting. I am curious if this would have been a much more blown up story had it come from FOX?

    December 31, 2013 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  15. Siestasis

    The Melissia Perry Harris show is a joke, a waste of time for anyone that watches that dribble. So juvenile, i wonder why MSNBC wastes the air power on such trash.

    December 31, 2013 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  16. Antonio

    MSNBC and its on-air "talent" continue to demonstrate, over and over again, how worthless and sadly irrelevant it and they have become. NBC should be embarrassed and must be desperate to allow this madness to continue. #irrelevant

    December 31, 2013 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  17. Mandor

    The Romneys are not always my favorite clan. But on this point, they're doing good willing to look past race and to use their wealth to help this kid have a good home and a good future. I don't care HOW partisan you want to be on any other day of the week, on THIS issue, they're doing good, and should be recognized for it.

    December 31, 2013 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  18. Jamila

    I don't see any thing funny of the family picture. I saw a picture of a beautiful woman (Andelynne) with her children. it is extremely wrong to make fun of Romney and his family because they adapt a black child. if it is a love home and I am sure it is power to them to adapt any child they want. who is the host to make fun of Romney family? yes she is black person but, is she ever help a child in need? I am a black woman and I say to Ben and Andelynne Congratulation.

    December 31, 2013 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  19. dan

    Turn the tables and a Republican would have been fired. Shame on you MSNBC....what a great example of what's wrong with this country!

    December 31, 2013 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  20. sdfjfjfjfj

    It's going to suck growing up in the Romney household. All that latent racism oozing from their mormon eyes. How many times will this kid have to hear "who let the dogs out?" from grandpa?

    December 31, 2013 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  21. jason

    neocons are evil.....period

    December 31, 2013 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  22. admiralbrown

    Say what you want about Mitt Romney and politics or his lack of touch with the common man, but as far as his family goes they are a loving bunch and all the children or grandchildren, adopted or not, cannot claim there is not love in the family. Congratulations to both the adopted child and the adopted family and best wishes for the future to all.

    December 31, 2013 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  23. BILL, WI

    The smug Lamont Hall says the smug segment was uncalled for, and said that he is a part of the problem.

    December 31, 2013 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  24. stella best

    I, think I missed part of this story. How did he adopt a grand son. Is that his daughter or son's child ? Don't blast me, I just would like some one to explain this . Waiting. Any one except, sarah Palin PLEASE!!!!!!!.

    December 31, 2013 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  25. josh

    I am so tired of this false equivalency and faux outrage from the right wing who 24/7 spews out hate speech and racist remarks especially about Obama and his family. this was a comedy segment and the truth hurts .the pic of the Romney family dressed like some cult with a llone cute black child does represent the republican party ....where is the outrage when 80 congressman are caught accusing our president of racism and being anit american and foreign born and a muslim undermining our country or unfurling a confederate flag at the gates of the white house...believe me that new african american grandchild should pray that the pundits on MSNBC have more influence than the right wing tea party hatemongers that would suppress the right to vote for people with his same complexion

    December 31, 2013 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
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