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. yogi

    I don't care who you are.. that baby is adorable!!! 🙂

    December 31, 2013 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  2. Kurt

    Who else is tired of the left and right constantly name calling and then accusing the other side of being hateful and vindictive.

    The comments on this board are the exact same thing. Fox News is aways ripping Dems, while MSNBC is always ripping Repubs. Yawn!

    I wish there really were alternatives to our two grand old parties that accept money from the same places. I have no idea how the middle of each parties can't come together to actually move the country forward. There is room to have Bib Business succeed and still take care of the sick and poor.

    Can we move on from spending precious time policing what people say, do, who they do, who the marry, or what they watch. I want libertarian ideals, mixed with a strong DEFENSIVE military, not an OFFENSIVE one.

    Can we also stop pretending that there is a war on Christianity. I am a married, catholic, white male and I have never been prevented from doing anything in my life. There is no war on my rights, and my marriage hasn't been weakened because there are states that are allowing gay citizens rights they should have already had. My church doesn't have to perform wedding it doesn't agree with, but the government should. Totally separate issues.

    December 31, 2013 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  3. Eric

    If this was Fox News, Rush Limbaugh or any conservative outllet all hell would break loose! Seems like there is always a double standard. Of course this is offensive look these people are trying to help the world and loving and providing for a child is a blessing.

    December 31, 2013 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  4. mike

    Note how MSNBC apologizes when they screw up. You'll never see Fox News do that...they just double down on the derp.

    December 31, 2013 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  5. critical thinking

    Is MSNBC still on the air?

    December 31, 2013 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  6. Danny

    Dear Santa, all I want for Christmas is a brand new news station that will observe, report, and allow the viewer to come to their own conclusions. No editorials, no opinions, no bs. Just observe and report.

    December 31, 2013 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  7. S

    Isn't it always the right wingers who say that people have the right to say whatever they want without repercussions? When that clown on duck dynasty spews hate toward homosexuals and blacks the right wingers defended him and his right to free speech and said how awful it was that he got a temporary suspension from the show. But say something about republicans and you should be fired and it's the most awful thing that has ever happened. That's republican "thinking" for you. The right to free speech applies only when it's speech the republican party agrees with.

    December 31, 2013 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  8. Alan

    It seems that all the professionalism that a reporter aka perry has is down the rabbit hole again. This woman is no reporter she is however a self absorbed racist and has no business being on TV or msnbc. She alone has brought nbc down to nothing more than a slanderous opionated broadcasting company where anyone who does not like their opinions should take their bullying and cuts and kiss their ass. Then they can come back and apologies which is really not and apology at all so they perry can get her black racist statements out there and do it all again. Msnbc should be called the opinion network not a news network a professional news network would not stand for this kind of garbage. That's why I don't believe anything this chicken little network says anymore . Like my dad said a long time ago every a@@ hole has an opinion news agency's need to cover the facts. Msnbc is the joke of all the news agency on the air today. Keep up you good work perry i like seeing and hearing about black racist on TV. You do your race a real honor proving that black racist truly live in America.

    December 31, 2013 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  9. cw

    MSNBC needs to be censored. I can't believe the things that are coming from them. Did all of you Liberals make this big of a stink when Angelina J and Brad P adopted several black children? How about Sandra Bullock or Oprah Winfrey. No wonder this country is such a mess right now. What happened to human decency. The biggest abusers I see are MSNBC and the far left. C'mon America, what's happened to everyone? How did we get to this point? The point of such hatred of fellow Americans. Everyone needs to grow up and quit trying to outwit the last guy. This whole thing makes me sick.

    December 31, 2013 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  10. Mad Dog Mike

    Black is Beautiful ..

    December 31, 2013 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  11. Jack

    Hold it, MSNBC is just as bad as FOX and others, the amount of put downs, nasty comments, jokes that go over the line is completely out of control. Being able to say anything you want, doesn't mean you should!

    December 31, 2013 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  12. JohnM

    Some people talk about being generous and giving, and others just do it. The Romney's gave a child a family and a home irrespective of his ethnicity, and they give 30% of their income to charity. I'm just guessing the panel in question who was passing judgement have not done the former and give very little toward the latter.

    December 31, 2013 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  13. gimmabreak

    Each one of these people have freedom of speach.

    December 31, 2013 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  14. odysseus1965

    ...ahem...this is not a "left" thing, this is a "stupid and insentivie people making flip remarks at the expense of a child" thing.

    December 31, 2013 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  15. don in albuquerque

    @anonymous–No it is not just the Republicans. It is however, very sadly, just life in America.

    December 31, 2013 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  16. Raymond

    I didn't notice the kid looked different until this article pointed her out. I can't wait for the day when NOBODY sees her differently.

    December 31, 2013 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  17. destroyerofeconomies

    I love the liberals on here defending people who were making fun of a child.priceless and telling

    December 31, 2013 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  18. GOP = Greed Over People

    And, so this is different from the redneck duck dudes "freedom of speech" how exactly?

    Other than of course, they were showing bigotry to both gays AND blacks.

    December 31, 2013 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  19. Irishman

    True Fact: the Gaelic meaning of the name Kieran is "black" or "dark-skinned". Perhaps the Romneys are protesting too much.

    December 31, 2013 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  20. Tomcat

    The REAL story here is that we had a man just one heartbeat from the presidency who had disdain for 47% of Americans! Those Americans consist of those bravely defended our country, grandparents and the truly needy. Of course, in Romneys defense it seems much more palatable when you tell your GOP millionaire donors what they want to hear!

    December 31, 2013 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  21. Name Martinson

    Why would anyone be surprised when someone on MSNBC uses race to denigrate someone they disagree with. Pick a label and flail away. Same old MSNBC methodology. The performer was just responding to the company approach

    December 31, 2013 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  22. Joe from Kalispell

    Liberals and progressives are so intolerance of others. MSNBC, how about putting the host on administrative leave without pay?

    December 31, 2013 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  23. frank

    but this is what liberals do....they hate, make fun of...! they have no arguments. this person should be apology is not enough...they have to learn their lesson. The GOP has always been a party of inclusion...shame that distorsion and ignorance has accomplished so much to keep them away from real power. So now go ahead and vote for Obama Reaid and pelosi AGAIN!

    December 31, 2013 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  24. Smart

    It is Very Sad that The World it Has Alot of Mean People.

    December 31, 2013 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  25. Craig

    I understand that it's painful to see "your party", or at least media members who lean that way, do something that's really just in poor taste to say the least...but can we leave the "your side is worse, so let's not look at this as much" talk out of it? We should all be able to agree that this is garbage. They can apologize, and we can forgive them, but there really is no excuse for this. Even putting the picture up to make fun of this family in ANY way is in poor taste...and to do it in the way they did it goes against what they supposedly believe in...and so calls into question their hearts (and makes you wonder what they talk about when the cameras are off). If you want to ignore that, I guess that's fine...but for anyone to do this (any media organization or otherwise) is wrong. Does it happen? Sure. We all make mistakes, and we're all morally flawed in some ways, but it is wrong...that's for certain.

    December 31, 2013 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
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