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)

    The most programs of MSMBC have gone to far. They have already lost moderate fairness. Even though my wife and I've
    keep liberal we've stop watching them.

    December 31, 2013 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  2. Josh

    What if the Clinton's daughter adopted a black child and someone from Fox News sang "One of these things is not like the other" and said that they wanted to adopt a token black child to get votes... Would it be racist then? My guess is liberals would be all over it. Marc Lamont Hill's defense is almost worse than the comments MSNBC made.

    December 31, 2013 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  3. alan

    Based on past stories I have read, had the roles been reversed, there would be a major firestorm n firings would be demanded. Truly a double standard is in place.

    December 31, 2013 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  4. Klo

    Thank goodness for the Romney family! They have figured out how to keep african american children from poverty.

    December 31, 2013 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  5. ironman59

    For all of you screaming they should be taken off the air, why did you support duck clown? There is no difference. They were expressing their opininon on a situation. More to the point conservatives have treated minorities like garbage for decades and are now suddenly "outraged". They need to learn to take some of the medicine they have dished out for decades.

    December 31, 2013 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  6. CryBabies

    @ sly...Sad commentary on your part. Also, it might work in your favor if you check your so-called "facts".

    December 31, 2013 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  7. erocks49ers

    And if Obama adopted a white child and Fox news did the same thing there would be outrage and rightfully so. You can't have it both ways. Why is the child's skin color important? Thats the problem with America. We are so fixated on color, religion, race, social status and political party that judgment and civility go out the window.

    I dare anyone to stand in front of a parent and make those remarks. They wouldn't. Just because your on tv doesn't give you a pass from decency.

    December 31, 2013 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  8. Bryan

    Hey, his family is just trying to support the people he outsources American jobs to! And I still can't believe some of you still think this anti-America business man should have been president! Of course, 1/3 of this country doesn't believe in evolution so that pretty much states the intelligence level of this country.

    December 31, 2013 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  9. Getoverit

    And who cares about Romney? Billionaire who pays no taxes? Typical Rich Republican.
    Because there are no rich democrats, eh, genius? Jealous of success?

    December 31, 2013 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  10. Tim

    More hatred and racism from the Liberals and their propagandists. Sad.

    December 31, 2013 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  11. Jimh77

    Lora, I'm with you on this one. Actually agree with Sarah on this.

    December 31, 2013 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  12. robert

    Liberals are truly whiny, vile, Prius driving fembots. Republicans: Hemi Driving Americans

    December 31, 2013 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  13. David

    MSNBC-The trash can of the media–with only one mission-trash anyone not progressive liberal-logic and sincerety make no difference-these people are haters

    December 31, 2013 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  14. Anonymous

    There is no sincerity in any of these apologies as they were forced to offer one. I am not saying whether one was required or not but who really cares.

    December 31, 2013 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  15. Nick G.

    So basically the clearly liberal station ripped this conservative greed-mongering Morman (a glorified cult) the same way that Fox News (the conservative network) rips liberals of all kinds and positions, especialyl the president everyday.


    December 31, 2013 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  16. One one

    Imagine if a news panel at Fox News put up a picture of the Obama family and started making fun of them with a focus on one of the children.

    It amazes me that some of the comments here are "what's the problem, it's no big deal".

    The double standard is obvious.

    December 31, 2013 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  17. Pat

    Just showing their level of maturity, bad example of how to behave. Such a shame because people in high profile positions have an impact on our youth.

    December 31, 2013 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  18. tired of it

    Both parties fight as soon as the cameras are turned on in typical divide and conquer mentality. Behind the scenes theyre congratulating each other on pilfering this once great country and hiding the money in Swiss bank accounts. Where did our money go and why are the rest of us so poor, well just look at our OWNERS, the rip off artists in Washington and on Wallstreet. Theyre all livin la vida loca while you and I are working 2 and 3 jobs to pay off debt THEY and their BANKSTER BUDDIES created. The time has come to abolish BOTH parties. They do not represent US and havent ever.

    December 31, 2013 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  19. Josh

    Hey, Marc Lamont Hill. What if the Clintons had an African American grandchild and someone from Fox News said, "One of these things is not like the other." Would it have been wrong then? My guess is you would be all over that, am I wrong?

    December 31, 2013 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  20. bluebird

    The whole thing was racist. Some idiots here actually believe that this adoption was a political stunt. Do you blowhards have any sense or taste? And to think MSNBC allows this to go unpunished is BS. Fire those self-righteous hypocrites. This administration and MSNBC and affiliates have aggravated racial tensions like no other.

    December 31, 2013 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  21. b allen

    So they acknowledged that he is black and different from the rest ... big deal ... why is this so bad?? We shouldn't even acknowledge the difference .. because guess what there is a difference.. and it really doesn't matter..


    December 31, 2013 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  22. Republiker

    These people truly do represent what MSNBC and the Democrat Freeloader Party stand for.

    December 31, 2013 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  23. joe hero

    Here's the real sad story with our society.....If MSNBC had made fun of one of their white grandchildren, do you think this would even be a topic of discussion?

    December 31, 2013 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  24. dakotaeric

    Even showing the pic when there was no story to tag is asking for trouble. The apology is junk considering they chose to display the pic in the room with a comedian, and ASK for comments while singling out the baby, prior to the commentary that followed.

    December 31, 2013 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  25. Big_D

    I'm glad to see the rich were able to buy enough of the House to preserve their 14% tax rate while the country keeps suffering. I'm only disappointed Obama was not able to do more to level the field. We can't stop the rich from taking over since they just pay off the politicians on both sides. We need better rules. Enough Koch and Soros rules for the rich on both sides!

    December 31, 2013 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
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