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. ScooferVA

    Yes, Escher – they will apologize... to keep their jobs. It doesn't matter if they mean it, right?

    P.S.: This has nothing to do with FOX News.

    December 31, 2013 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  2. rwhite

    This beautiful family reflects the mistake America made in not electing this fine man to the Presidency. In view of the blunders Mr. Obama has made and the successes he has not made, aren't you all sorry now?

    December 31, 2013 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  3. BO

    Some people talk about tolerance and others LIVE it.

    December 31, 2013 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  4. Dan

    You're kidding me, right?...oh yes RIGHT wing where you can say anything slandering,belittling or just down-right mean spirited.Watch any of the talk/round table discussions on FOX and you get this constantly but it doesn't make headlines on CNN.Double standard indeed!

    December 31, 2013 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  5. alf564

    Once again, this is typical msnbc.....nothing but garbage hosts and garbage really makes no difference what goes in

    December 31, 2013 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  6. Just Ducky

    It looks like "Duck" weather to me.

    I guess the gloves are off, game on, time to even the score and bring home the Bacon.

    Anyone want to slam the Robertson's from Duck Dynasty now?

    And for my lack of attention to MSNBC insults, don't expect greatness from that group. They just are a bunch of angry left wing dens. Just like their leader.

    Photo time, anyone have a mixed race family?

    MSNBC wants you.

    December 31, 2013 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  7. sigh

    Meanwhile, people in North Dakota are wondering if their air is safe to breathe at the homes they've been asked to evacuate from the toxic chemical fires currently burning....

    December 31, 2013 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  8. TheNotoriousBlueAvenger

    Romney is, was and always will be a fake.

    December 31, 2013 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  9. NeoKat1

    I applaud Mitt Romney!!! This is what family is all about!! look at his family!! Perfect and awesome! Nothing ever beats having a family like his. While other selfish Americans are having no more than 2 selfish kids. AMERICA, THIS IS WHAT FAMILY IS!!

    December 31, 2013 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  10. GreenCap

    MSNBC is know for hateful anti-american and specifically anti-white derogatory comments. Hopefully this will reduce even further their already extremely low rate.

    December 31, 2013 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  11. Greg K

    I just watched the video and this is satire, Folks!! Two black panelists including themselves into the banter. WAY overblown and goes to show the worst injustice of all, freedom of speech and being able to laugh at ourselves.

    December 31, 2013 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  12. Ma23peas

    Geez! No wonder I rarely watch/read CNN...the majority of you (viewers) are so far bent on demeaning and belittling anything remotely that goes against your far left belief systems that you can not even realize the blatant lack of professional journalism displayed by this attention seeker. I am not outraged or surprised, MSNBC is loaded with like minded, unprofessional, left-weighted 'journalists'...while I rarely check in at CNN, I NEVER check MSNBC. I am more disappointed in the level of journalism that our 'educational' systems seem to be churning out...she's an idiot. And I mean that in the dictionary sense...a foolish or stupid person...for her, the balance falls more to the foolish.

    December 31, 2013 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  13. Get used to IT tea potty! 3 more yrs to spew ur hate @Obama

    Wonder when CNN is gonna post a story when next FAUX NEWS starts mocking the president?

    Hey, watch it tonite...Sean Hannity will be dishing one hateful comment after another on Faux News. It's a common routine @ Faux News and they call it news. Hahahaha

    December 31, 2013 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  14. Dan1959

    MSNBC should immediately schedule these people for mandated sensitivity training.

    December 31, 2013 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  15. Robjh1

    Melissa's comments were pitiful and disgusting! The remarks by her sidekicks were no better. This is what happens when people attempt to hijack certain positions in society. Now we know (as if it weren't evident) racism comes in all forms and knows no limit.

    December 31, 2013 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  16. Morerightwingblather

    Note to Pia Glenn: next time, just make some insulting and derogatory remarks about Mormons and claim that the Bible told you that worshipping false idols was a sin. And never apologize. And claim your free speech rights have been violated by anyone who criticizes you. That seems to be the acceptable approach these days.

    December 31, 2013 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  17. A. Martin

    WHO WATCHES MSNBC ANYWAY ?? That's what you get when you watch grade C network. Way to prove it MSNBC !

    December 31, 2013 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  18. doug

    I don't think anything they said was really offensive, but why they would even think joking about this issue would be seen as acceptable is beyond me. That family needs more color, that's all I know. They are pale.

    December 31, 2013 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  19. svenghooli

    Ha, I think it was hilarious........but really, why does anyone care about the Romneys??? I was hoping these freaks had gone away...

    December 31, 2013 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  20. JGR

    The people at MSNBC responsible for this should all resign and get off the air. If they don't, then I will not tune in to MSNBC anymore. Thank you. God bless the Romney family.

    December 31, 2013 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  21. Melody Malone

    FIRE HER! what a disgrace!

    December 31, 2013 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  22. just saying

    people, allow me to explain to you the warped thinking of these msnbc haters and racists.

    you see, now that white people have adopted a black baby, the baby can now longer be considered black anymore. the baby is now polluted by the white family and culture. it will not grow up be truly black and will be a danger to the liberals because while they will be black, they will be raised white, educated white, and then think white and god forbid maybe even conservative white.

    so given this scenario, the baby must be attacked and ridiculed along with the family because that is the way these far left racists and haters will treat this poor baby for the rest of their lives.

    welcome to the world of the hate filled liberal racists and the way their warped minds work.

    December 31, 2013 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  23. srcactus

    Classy Liberal comment, say something demeaning! Yet on practical matters the same speakers come up ZERO!

    December 31, 2013 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  24. Ryan Evans

    Can we all agree that after the endless race-baiting and slanted reporting we saw during the zimmerman trial, that CNN has no room to talk? I mean, you people employ Nancy Grace for heaven's sake...

    December 31, 2013 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  25. James

    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.
    So, by virtue of their skin color, the "2 African-Americans" are the sole arbiters who determines what is and what is not racism? Sorry dude, it does not work like that in America. Their opinion means no more or no less than anybody else.

    December 31, 2013 11:05 am at 11:05 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