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. Darrell

    And of course CNN has to jump in and try to start a race war.

    December 31, 2013 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  2. Kay

    Rude and ignorant come to mind.

    December 31, 2013 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  3. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    You guys still talking about this bs?
    Friday came early to CNN.
    Just checking....

    December 31, 2013 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  4. chris

    When a liberal makes a racist remark the media calls it poking fun.

    December 31, 2013 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  5. holam

    hyp·o·crite/ˈhɪpəkrɪt/ Show Spelled [hip-uh-krit] Show IPA
    1. a person who pretends to have virtues, moral or religious beliefs, principles, etc., that he or she does not actually possess, especially a person whose actions belie stated beliefs.
    2. a person who feigns some desirable or publicly approved attitude, especially one whose private life, opinions, or statements belie his or her public statements.


    December 31, 2013 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  6. Danny

    Interesting this became such a big deal. NO ONE watches MSNBC so hard to figure how it was reported. And who has ever heard of Melissa Harris? She must have done this on purpose to get a single mention on Google.

    December 31, 2013 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  7. Richard

    This is front page news?

    December 31, 2013 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  8. Adoption


    You think? Brilliant deduction Watson.

    They need more than those attributes.

    December 31, 2013 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  9. Greg Tacin

    Why are these employees allowed to continue on without some type of recourse? They should be at least suspended without pay for a week or two. Racial Comments should not be allowed regardless of the racial makeup of the speaker.

    December 31, 2013 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  10. Doral4720

    Where is Reverend Al Sharpton? Wait a minute he only attacks when it suits his agenda. MSNBC is a joke!

    December 31, 2013 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  11. JT

    Shame on thse MSNBC panelists for mocking a biracial family to make political points. While you may disagree with Republican polticis, leave family out of your attacks. Even the Mafia leave family out of business! MSNBC should do the same. In their narrow-minded hatred of Republicans, their humor crosses the line. I for one, am appalled at the racism expressed, made even worse by the fact that 2 of the panelists agreeing with the hurtful attacks are of color (as am I). Utterly disgusting..........

    December 31, 2013 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  12. holam

    Bob, I agree 100% with you

    December 31, 2013 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  13. Chaz

    MSNBC, the apology network, goes by the philosophy of "Its easier to apologize than to get permission". What a sad lineup. Their talentless staff has to chortle distorted opinions to all 100 listeners.

    December 31, 2013 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  14. Constantine16621990

    Who cares about the Romney family and their millions upon trillions of children, they still lie through their teeth, and il bet my bottom dollar that this is just a media stunt. YOU SUCK ROMNEY!!!!

    December 31, 2013 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  15. curtis

    I wonder who the "black sheep" in that family is? 😉 get over it people.. comedy is always at the expense of a someone, they just get offended when they can't dish it back.. I suppose the superbowl will end in a tie this year so no one gets there wittle hearts broken too.

    December 31, 2013 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  16. karl from az

    Where are the calls for her firing? Despicable broad on a despicable network!

    December 31, 2013 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  17. njudgemental

    I think it would be a saving grace idea for Al Sharpton to feature a half hour piece on this incident and talk about how hateful this Melissa Harris on her MSNBC show. Of course that wouldn’t happen, but it would be a good gesture from MSNBC to provide official apology to the Rommys, including an explanation of why what was said was so hateful followed by a statement that this type of behavior from their news people will not be tolerated in the future. Compared to Roberson’s comments, which were not on air, and not directed at any particular person, what Melissa said and did, should lead to her being fired.

    December 31, 2013 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  18. Norm

    Racist on TV? Apologize on twitter.

    December 31, 2013 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  19. BubblesB

    These idiots should be treated the same way as Phil Robertson. Take them off the air.

    December 31, 2013 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  20. ed dugan

    Everything that family does is to gain more attention and nothing more. I just wish they would all go away and stay away. The group picture is disgusting, sort of like upper class Duggins, another disgusting family,

    December 31, 2013 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  21. OdinVonTogan

    Another lovely jesture (not) by the puke-rich people who have obliterated 10s of 1000s of job opportunities for African Americans who, if they had a job, would not need to give their children up for adoption, and the child could grow up in an even more loving family with his biological parents, you know, the way God wants it.

    December 31, 2013 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  22. Tom

    I am a firm supporter of Harris-Perry's program and am disapointed that this segment was not stopped in it's tracks before it was let loose. I do accept her appology and am still waiting for apology one for all the miscues issued daily on the fox channel. Having said that, the comment that this is the perfect family and that people who choose to only have two children rather than multiples of two are selfish people is the most stupid, irresponsible comment one could make. If everone produced at this increased rate, why we could get to twenty billion on the face of this earth within thirty years. Wouldn't that be great?????

    December 31, 2013 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  23. Sonny

    Hypocrisy of liberals...always acting like they are against racism, and they're always the ones bringing up race

    December 31, 2013 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  24. RettasVegas

    MSNBC made a mistake, they were wrong and went to far to get a laugh, done in very poor taste, as are many things we see on TV today.
    Every station trying to out do the other's with tasteless, rude comments, always over the top for schock vaule, (Miley C.).
    Hope they learned they don't have to draw negative attention to get any attention, it's insulting to the veiwer's.
    Try adding good old fashion "class" to broadcasting, I for one would watch, it would be very unique, trend setting to say the least, lol!

    December 31, 2013 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  25. Friends

    Time for somebody to get fired !

    December 31, 2013 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
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