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. RCDC

    He is a good planner, but the picture display no family planning

    December 31, 2013 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  2. davecu

    What a stellar record on news reporting this network DOESN'T have!
    If they had ANY principles they would be ashamed of themselves.

    December 31, 2013 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  3. OvernOut

    Why is this the lead story? This is more like what the tabloids would have for a lead story.

    December 31, 2013 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  4. SixDegrees

    So much for that whole post-racial society thing.

    December 31, 2013 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  5. IA

    The left loves to pin the"hate" moniker on the right and the GOP. Its their battle cry for anything we do and is quite laughable as it shows thw herd mentality of the uneducated masses on the left. Well now you have your true leader of hate on the left. MHP has been cultivating her agenda for some time and has proved herself to be a Journalistic (?) hack. keep tuning in to her to get your daily dose of Political MSLSD.

    December 31, 2013 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  6. Osama Bin Laden

    MSNBC is a dying brand which has lost 50% of its viewers in the past 2 years. Any publicity is good publicity is the saying.

    December 31, 2013 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  7. eewrites

    These were deeply offensive comments involving children and their bond with their parents. Reducing people to nothing more than their race and ignoring their humanity. (And no, I'm not interested in what the Republican party has said in the past. That in no way justifies this grotesque "joke.") I am shocked that MSNBC would allow these statements. It really diminishes the credibility of the station and their opinions when they say such grossly insensitive things.
    (By the way, I am a liberal Democrat.)

    December 31, 2013 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  8. PaminIA

    Its tacky Mittens delivers enough joke material, hell even his boys do, but leave the little ones alone, not cool, minor children are off limits.

    December 31, 2013 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  9. wilnel1984

    So, tell me, how does this story get a headline over "USOC official concerned about Russia bombings ahead of Sochi Olympics" or Phil Robertson's newly unearthed quotes about men marrying underage girls? Not even Google News has MHP in their headlines.

    December 31, 2013 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  10. Miguel

    And the left believes Romney is the racists and not Melissa.

    December 31, 2013 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  11. Cary

    Let's move tot the future and look at the dictionary which contains only words that are not offensive to anyone. Now you open it and find only one word which has not been redacted, "the". Who can get offended by a word which just points at something? Whoops! Just got a phone call telling me that the word "the" will be redacted in the next version as pointing is not polite.

    December 31, 2013 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  12. Risa

    This disgust me. People like this are the reason my biracial adopted son came home at age three crying because another kid told him I could not be his mommy, because I was white and he was black. The kids learn intollerance from their parents. I will never support anything with MSNBC again.

    December 31, 2013 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  13. Aim4TheFace

    Why don't we take a stroll down memory lane when the GOP mocked McCain's indian daughter...

    December 31, 2013 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  14. Mary

    I love this type of family photo; when all the members of family gather together; it is lovely. Unfortunately in some families, the greed and stupidity do not let such a beautiful photo shooting happen.
    Back to the subject, why do we care about color of skin so much? This happened because the adopted baby is black. These short-sighted views cause embarrassments for lots of people. We must behave more human.

    December 31, 2013 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  15. wilnel1984

    I will say what all conservatives say when someone of their ilks says something outrageously offensive.

    Get over it.

    December 31, 2013 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  16. Mike C

    Look, the left likes to pretend they are not racists but he reality is they are some of the most racists groups of people that exists. Using name calling; using meanness, ridiculing, putting down other groups that don't agree with their views is what the left does all the time. I am a minority who lives in the south. When I talk to friends up north they always ask me how can you live in a racists state? I can't believe I get those questions asked. I don't feel any more racism here than I do in any other part of the country. Look Bobby Jindal is the Governor of the State of Louisiana. A lot of this perception is being created by the left with programs like MSNBC and Hollywood movies who don't seem to survive without making a movie without creating villains. And if a movie needs a villains they pick a group that they don't like. Either a business person, someone from the south, a religious group etc.

    December 31, 2013 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  17. hkirwin

    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?

    We call this denial. This isn't about the Romney's Cletus.

    December 31, 2013 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  18. Harry101

    Well it's MSNBC I don't really expect any better. That some progressives can and are racist is no suprize to me. To say the GOP has done the same seems to be the progressive blame game play today. I love it when the left profiles the cons then say how much more inlighted they are. I alsays get a luagh

    December 31, 2013 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  19. Jeff C

    Welcome to the land of cynicism and bi-polar politics. You don't agree with my political views? Then your every action must be mocked and ridiculed!

    Grow up, people. Republicans...Democrats...and everyone in between. It's so easy to attack those who you don't agree with. It's harder to understand or relate.

    Our political landscape is now a battle field between two sides who regard the other as their "enemy." If the media only fans the flames of conflict, will we ever be able to unite as one nation?

    December 31, 2013 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  20. Jim in Florida

    Why does MSNBC feel the need to denigrate the Romney family, I think the campaign and election was over a while back. But not for the race baiters at MSNBC. The child will grow up in a loving fanmily and will one day make a difference in the world, MSNBC fosters division, racial divide. In short, MSNBC does Obama's Marxist bidding. Create class divisions, kill the middle class – that is what the collection of human filth over at MSNBC is all about.

    December 31, 2013 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  21. Jim

    What happened to our sense of humor in this country?
    Once again let me state "No one has the right to NOT be offended"
    If you don't like a joke,change the channel,buy a different magazine/newspaper etc but stop acting like you are so freakin special and important that every joke needs to be run by you first.
    NEWS FLASH!!! people in this world will say things you don't like or agree with DEAL WITH IT!

    December 31, 2013 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  22. oprah jackson

    And people still whine....typical American.

    December 31, 2013 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  23. shaw

    This woman is simply vying to be the next Al Sharpton. To win that "prize," you have to be outrageous. She's not sorry for what she said, only worried that she went too far.

    December 31, 2013 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  24. Life isnt fair

    We have become a nation that is hypersensitive and obsesssed with politival correctness. At the same time,we seem to be overly critical of anyone who doesnt think like we do. Lighten up, this isnt the end of the world.

    December 31, 2013 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  25. nelbert

    Fairly typical behavior from the left. They attacked Palin's children and Ann Romney for her multiple sclerosis. They have a pretty well established tradition of going for children and the ill, so not much of a shock here that Harris-Perry and company would attack a baby.

    December 31, 2013 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
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