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. StopObama

    And Obama is in support his MSNBC friends again

    December 31, 2013 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  2. hkirwin


    This is front page news?

    LOL....I bet you wish it wasn't.

    December 31, 2013 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  3. Big Red

    It's mind blowing how many people have no idea what Freedom of Speech actually is...yet throw it out there as a defense. This is not a Freedom of Speech issue at all. Goes to show just how uneducated our society is.

    December 31, 2013 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  4. skeptic

    But its ok if the Duck family trashes Black folks and Gay folks.

    December 31, 2013 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  5. istenno

    i'm a liberal who thinks mitt romney is a piece of poo, but i also think that making fun of this adoption is beyond the pale. there's plenty to make fun of without bringing a kid into it. kudos for a romney adopting a baby who without them might not have had much of a chance.

    December 31, 2013 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  6. Kitty

    What I want to know is why the little Black BOY is wearing pink when all the other males in the pic are wearing blue?
    What does that mean? All the females with the exception of the young lady in the back of the photo are wearing pink.

    December 31, 2013 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  7. s~

    They would have prefered that the baby been aborted.

    They're are the enlighten ones.

    December 31, 2013 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  8. jr

    Even as an independent, I can't watch that network. Too many reporters are condescending and nasty. The stories are so slanted. At least keep some reporting & news integrity.

    December 31, 2013 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  9. Matt

    Wow Bob, Way to lump 50 percent of the nation together in one sentence! That was almost racist! (Yes, MSNBC was in very poor taste.) But really, aren't there more important things going on in the world today?

    December 31, 2013 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  10. DODGER

    What is wrong with MSNBC? It seems their news is just ridiculed

    December 31, 2013 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  11. steve harnack

    Oh please. All of this fake outrage is just making me sick. They didn't say one word that wasn't true and glaringly obvious. Every one of the people complaining about it used far worse language and said real insulting things. I pity the poor kid growing up in that stiff necked bunch, it's simply more Pharisee behavior from a family of thieves.

    December 31, 2013 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  12. aaric

    Romney's are still RACIST AND ELITIST. This changes nothing. People who sincere do not pimp-out adopted children for photo opportunities.

    December 31, 2013 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  13. Jack 2

    Liberals are good throwing insults at anyones cost.

    December 31, 2013 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  14. Sean S

    If Jackson or Sharpton do not DEMAND to meet with MSNBC execs IMMEDIATELY then they are hypocritical, double-standard, politicizing, opportunistic racists.
    If you didn't already know that then you are one too.

    December 31, 2013 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  15. Jim Jimson

    Needs to be fired – imagine if this was a someone making fun of a white baby adopted by black parents. Think MSNBC would just shrug their shoulders about that. No excuses at any time for racism and especially not on network TV. Fire them.

    December 31, 2013 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  16. Lora

    That awkward moment when you find yourself in agreement with Sarah Palin and the Romneys....

    December 31, 2013 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  17. hkirwin


    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!!!!

    Do you really want another one of these in the White House?????????????????? Even funnier he is one of their best and brightest on the left.

    December 31, 2013 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  18. watash60

    sick wacko liberal media at its best

    December 31, 2013 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  19. bill

    If a right winger had done this we'd have the White House weighing in, What is it about liberals hypocrisy? They can't stand individuals who do the right thing and help a child to a better life without the government involved. Dean Obeidaliah, Melllissa Harris-Perry and those on the left at MSNBC who condone this, should do more than just offer a flippant apology, after 1st defending their statements. There comments are sick as are the people who uttered them.

    December 31, 2013 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  20. gee

    Why MSNBC? More like what Faux does with the President.

    December 31, 2013 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  21. futureman

    This is outrageous! Outrageously funny that is. I don't see any derogatory comments about anyone. And the joke about Romney and Puff Daddy being in laws is hysterical. The Righties are desperate for issues. No doubt Bill O' Lielly will make an issue of this. And that's a memo!

    December 31, 2013 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  22. Michigan patriot

    Very poor taste, but I am not surprised anymore of the people of mnsbc, they have to mock people that they don't agree with them. Laughing about the adoption of this little one is absurd, how dare they make fun of something so precious. They should be ashamed.

    December 31, 2013 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  23. Chuck

    Maybe you should look to see if they have made fun of Willie & Korie Robertson's adopted son who is bi-racial.

    December 31, 2013 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  24. Anica

    However u feel about people's political views and policies, children should be left out of our criticisms. They have no control over what the adults in their lives do or don't do.

    December 31, 2013 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  25. hkirwin


    Is pointing out the uniqueness of a traditionally racist individual a racist act?
    Romney, a Mormon (deacon, I think) a historically racist religion is holding ONE black child in a field of white people.
    The fact that he is holding a black child doesn't change the FACT that it is incredibly ironic.

    This is why the world will never change. Thanks for bringing us together Barak.

    December 31, 2013 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
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