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. Dave in Houston

    MSNBC is a joke – tabloid trash on TV.

    December 31, 2013 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  2. Sumguy2006

    Ugly when these suposidly "progressive" msnbc hosts show there true colors, isn't it?

    December 31, 2013 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  3. LIB-CON

    Marc L Hill... "Everyone mocks Mitt Romney, Its a sport" So using this child that is SON adopted, which I am sure Mitt did not have any decision power in that process is ok??? I CAN NOT believe you have a responsibility for teaching our youth... Cosby must be furious with you....

    December 31, 2013 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  4. JadeB

    Do large families wearing matching clothes scream CULT to anyone else?
    Also, "one of these things is not like the other" is hilarious.

    December 31, 2013 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  5. kenneth martin

    It's a shame social media is used to comment on every aspect of life about people we don't even know. Yet we don't have a clue what our government is doing and where our country is heading.

    December 31, 2013 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  6. Belvarie Varnado

    One question. I assumed the baby was a girl because it's dressed in pink. But after reading further and seeing another picture I realized he is a boy. Why did they dress him in pink?

    December 31, 2013 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  7. Ryan

    Like Fox News is any better????

    December 31, 2013 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  8. gj

    I find it ironic that the people calling for these people to be fired or resign are the same ones screaming "free speech" when the DD guy preached his hate speech. also, I'm disappointed that CNN thinks this should be the headline on its page when there is true news happening in the world. shame on CNN

    December 31, 2013 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  9. sonnie3

    Just has one agenda/ It is not a "NEWS" organization, but a crusty left wing liberal tabloid the gives out opinions by their minions. So SADD when the likes of the Romney Family's love for ALL mankind is insulted. Are they engaged in a one upmanship on a race to the bottom of the human chain?

    December 31, 2013 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  10. Josh

    I think Marc Lamont Hill's defense of what they said is worse than what they actually said!!!! Seriously, absolutely absurd. I thought MSNBC was already being racist, but when Marc says, basically, "They're allowed to be because they're saying it about White Republicans. So it isn't racist." that really got my blood boiling. Are liberals like him so caught up in their own self-righteousness that they really think that they are incapable of being racist?

    December 31, 2013 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  11. Anonymous

    Oh, the Republican outrage – yet they call the Obama family uppity, depict the President as a jungle tribesman, Palin puts crosshairs on the President, define blacks as lazy and wanting free handouts and latinos as wet-backs, yeah, what outrage.

    December 31, 2013 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  12. Marty

    As I have often said, the most bigoted and hateful people are often the ones claiming to be the most tolerant – aka extreme progressives.

    December 31, 2013 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  13. Harry Baxter

    I agree that MsNBC personnel can be smug, but they're nothing like Faux News Anchors, who are too dumb to be smug.

    December 31, 2013 11:23 am at 11:23 am |

    I am glad that the Romneys have put a small amount of their money into providing these children a roof over their heads but Progressive people 'of the left' should be offended by this photo as it speaks to so much outdated and unhealthy family situations. Dressing girls in pink and boys in blue went out in the 50's, or should have because it stereotypes them. The TOTAL lack of racial diversity is glaring, offensive and sickening. It screams of racism. I fear for these children being indoctrinated into the Mormon Church, a church which allows all sorts of sickening situations ( I am an atheist and feel this way about all religions).The fact that at a point when Romney is still holding out hopes that he might be able to progress behind his last pathetic attempt at the Presidency he and his wife trumpet a black child ought to be challenged as it cannot be viewed as any less than opportunistic. I wonder how that child will feel in a sea of white skins ?

    December 31, 2013 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  15. Tom1940

    What I love about MSNBC: (Their News Anchors) – If there is a way, they (all), consistently figure how to get their size 14 shoe stuck in their mouths down to the lacings on their high-tops. Not an easy feat, (no pun untended), but they manage to do it "often" and are very consistent on the "depth" of the insertion. (Probably the same depth up their "dark place", by management when their bosses finally figures out that a slight "on air mistake" was made (on purpose, no doubt).

    December 31, 2013 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  16. DaveVB

    To those posting that this is satire and no big are all together missing the controversy; the main stream media would be annihilating any GOP or Fox News contributor who got even close to these kinds of comments....Megan Kelly being the most recent example. I'd say good job to CNN except they're just more than likely trying to score ratings against their rival since most left-leaning media is struggling as they cover for the Administration for over five years and canniblize each others dismal ratings (can I post that or is not PC ???)

    December 31, 2013 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  17. ann

    We all are connected! We all come from one God. We should be treating each other likewise. So simple. We'd have peace forever if we ALL did this. 🙂

    December 31, 2013 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  18. Phil Johnson

    They should not just resign, they should be terminated and MSNBC held Liable for the comments. This is wrong!!! It is sad to see an industry move like this and attempt to cause Heart Ache to such good people.

    December 31, 2013 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  19. Rudy NYC

    Lynda/Minnesota wrote:

    The very best in the New Year to you and your family as well, Dominican mama! For reason's you will understand, I am limited to my conversation topics.
    I thought your internet was frozen. Happy New Year to you and mama both. Uh, everyone else, too. Left and right.

    December 31, 2013 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  20. Rachel_Madcow

    The real kicker is that this article will get more views than MSNBC's entire programming lineup today.

    December 31, 2013 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  21. Julia70

    Telll it like it is, they are not considered equal in the Moron church
    From 1849 to 1978, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) had a policy against ordaining black men to the priesthood, and forbidding black men and women from taking part in ceremonies in LDS temples. Associated with this policy were various statements by church leaders tying the policy to their view of scripture, and opining that black men and women had inherited the curse of Ham. In 1978, President Spencer W. Kimball, the leader of the LDS church, declared in a statement known as "Official Declaration—2" that the ban had been lifted.

    December 31, 2013 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  22. ireuel

    On twitter? Is that the way a real apology is done these days? Twitter, twerking, Hash tag. What has this world come to? Easy answer. A world that people with fake names can write just about anything would it be true or not. Oh I don't know maybe even the trolls here. Happy New Years and may we return to human to human discussions of a civil manner? Didn't think so.

    December 31, 2013 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  23. cfd

    What a piece of two faced garbage MSNBC is and all those who support it's agenda.

    December 31, 2013 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  24. jj

    Great! Apology accepted. Let the Faux news people start their apologies, in return. All the lies and made-up 'facts they rant about. And the gullible nod their heads, as one...
    We're waiting................
    And to anyone who didn't understand the 'republican diversity' joke – you are hopeless!

    December 31, 2013 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  25. jrzydvl

    @ Get used to IT tea potty! 3 more yrs to spew ur hate @Obama
    I finally understand. You liberals do not know the difference between a news show and a political commentaor. Hannity isnot news. Get over it. he is a right wing political commentator. That woujld not sttop to the likes of MSNBC. I have no idea if the MSNC idiots are journalists or commentatots, but the remarks ar made at the expense of some one else, a child. Way off base. POTUS, however, is, and always will be, fair game. Not the kids. Go get'em Sean !!!!!

    December 31, 2013 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
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