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. rosethornne


    Let's see the same fuss when baggers say something nasty about a woman.......


    December 31, 2013 11:18 am at 11:18 am |

    5 months from now, when the Senate races are in full swing and the Dems are facing bad poll numbers, is there any doubt you will be able to see MHP engage in this type of behavior, to the extreme, on a nightly basis? Her apology is meaningless, because she has a long history of this sort of hate mongering and race baiting.And NBC/Comcast obviously condones it , because they continually let it happen under their brand. She needs to be fired

    December 31, 2013 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  3. Ms. X

    i think, dream (yes, night dreams and day dreams both!), believe, talk, vote, contribute $, sign petitions and act in my daily life as a Progressive. I am female, white, a senior citizen, a mother of a self-described mixed race son and a grandmother of two biracial children. I find this "joke" at the expense of an innocent child to be extraordinarily offensive! I don't buy this "Progressives can do no wrong" baloney. We screw up all the time, just like most Humans (with the possible exception of Pope Francis!) on the face of this Earth. This was mean-spirited, cheap, tacky and just plain POOR! Shame on you folks for this–last time I looked, this show was not Duck Dynasty! Don't sink to that level of mockery and ignorance. And don't apologize to tweeters or to Romney–apologize to that Baby who will one day, if the Fates allow and I hope fervently they will, grow up to be a wise and caring Man and will watch and read all this for himself.

    December 31, 2013 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  4. Baltimoreguy

    Yes, these comments were, at best, tasteless. However, these "he said,she said" type fisticuffs are only really significant in that they are reflective of the real problem and that is the seemingly irreconcilable (red or blue?) political and cultural divide in this country. I have always felt the civic responsibilities that come with being a citizen of this foundering yet still great country and have, at some point, been a registered voter of both major parties, eventually becoming disillusioned with both. Everyone has his or her opinion of what's best and the "truth", as is the case with most situations, lies somewhere in or near the middle. That is why I, for lack of viable alternatives, am now an independent. Let us at least, despite the odds, hope the new year will be a more peaceful one and while hoping actually do something to make it happen.

    December 31, 2013 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  5. jp7262


    You should know.

    December 31, 2013 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  6. Greeny

    I'd say Romneys should be applaud for their action. The kid will gave a happy life.

    December 31, 2013 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  7. Tim T

    Good ole Mitt;s got himself a token for his next run! It's pathetic how the GOPites make a big issue about a little humor- especially when it hits so close to home! LOL!

    December 31, 2013 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  8. Anonymous

    True racism will ALWAYS raise it's ugly head. Even in the liberal press. How disgusting.

    December 31, 2013 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  9. Wade

    Since she is black and an over the top liberal hate machine she will get away with it. If she had been a conservative Christian they would be burning her at the cross now. LOL....

    December 31, 2013 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  10. hkirwin

    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

    Are they all like this one? Can we stand 3 more years of hate, division, and hypocracy?

    December 31, 2013 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  11. drrichard

    Stupid and insensitive. As for diversity, good for them in making the adoption. Usually the Republic Party goes all the way from "A" to "B".

    December 31, 2013 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  12. Tim

    See, THIS is why I can't stand the rabid left OR rabid right.

    Progressives and Tea Partiers...its gotten to the point where they act exactly the same: Attack, demean, belittle, demonize ANYONE who DARES to think differently or who calls them on their 'spin'.

    December 31, 2013 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  13. just asking

    those in here equating msnbc with fox news are liars or have never actually watched fox news. the hate speech and racism openly displayed on msnbc every hour of every day is not what is on fox news. fox news almost always has people from both sides on and debating. msnbc is nothing but far left haters and people who are like minded. the yonly people in here making comments equating fox news with msnbc are most likely msnbc junkies and haters.

    December 31, 2013 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  14. Adoption

    Adoption is a solution. We should celebrate and thank any family that chooses to take in an unwanted child.

    Most kids adopted today are black or mix race. These are wonderful children who we need to love and care for.

    Insulting anyone who adopts demonstrates how small minded and bigoted these individuals must be.

    However, they have a right to speak. And, if they use that freedom to insult someone they deserve whatever happens to them in the free market place.

    Firing the host is an option. Does that send the right message or saves face?

    Should that person be required to take a course on journalism or have to go before the Romney family in person on camera live for all to see and hear to apologize?

    Let the punishment fit the crime.

    But be sincere. Really sincere. Not a sacrificial Lamb.

    December 31, 2013 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  15. snowman

    So, the libs feign indignation when a conservative makes a misstep. When a lib makes a misstep, they want conservatives to overlook it or they're hypocrites. This heartless, hypocritical "journalist" should be discharged just the same as Don Imus (among others) was.

    December 31, 2013 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  16. Leland

    As part of a racially mixed family, both through adoption and though marriage, I do not find their comments offensive. MHP accurately extolled the beauty of the child and the comedians accurately pointed out the fact that this picture does, indeed, mirror the level of diversity in the Republican party: one person of color in a crowd with 22 white people. This picture is an ironic coincidence.

    The same people who are crying foul for these comments are the same who remain silent when the Tea Party throws racial epithets at our president. This is just more Palin-hypocrisy from conservatives. A sport at which they excel.

    December 31, 2013 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  17. cindy

    Such ugliness: ugly journalism. And from those who would BE THE FIRST to cry "racism!" if they weren't part of it.

    December 31, 2013 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  18. Sunnysmom

    This is what happens when we're reduced as a nation to doing "news' stories just to fill up time on a 24-hour station. They're so starved for material they have to do comic reviews of selected pictures? We can make this a liberal/conservative fight if we want to, but it's a bigger issue of idiocy and the dumbing-down of America in my opinion.

    December 31, 2013 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  19. Speaking Truth

    Had a white anchor made the same jokes, the media would be outraged. They would be boycotting the network, Jessie would be insisting on a meeting, Obama would still be on vacation, and that anchor would be out of work and their career finished.
    But that's the way it is now.

    December 31, 2013 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  20. Rhino1

    This could be fixed but we are too busy rubber necking. The people are in control in this Idiocracy and most are taking us down with them. We put something on the innanet and it is immediately viral....BS. It is only viral because they say it is viral. As long as we have people telling us how to think and how to feel what to like what is offensive then we are never free to be individuals. Watch Idiocracy ~ that is where we will be in a couple of centuries or less.
    "I am living on a planet with insane apes" GH

    December 31, 2013 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  21. bill

    Everybody apologizes but they don't mean it! Do the right thing and FIRE HER!

    December 31, 2013 11:20 am at 11:20 am |

    NBC/Comcast, it is time to stop the race baiting and hate mongering that is on display almost every night at MSNBC, fire her, and the lineup from 7 through 10 pm. Otherwise, people should start switching their cable provider to Direct TV.

    December 31, 2013 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  23. Romney

    Is she wrong with that remark???

    December 31, 2013 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  24. Orolandes O'Rourke

    I love the Faux outrage from Conservatards, yet the same people defend the hateful spewing Phil Robertson (Duck Dynasty head). Hypocrite thy name is Conservative.

    December 31, 2013 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  25. Harwood

    "I am sorry. Without reservation or qualification."


    I reject your apology and your network. Without reservation or qualification. Go to the devil.

    December 31, 2013 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
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