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. Jonathan Collins

    Another typical example why so many people view the underclass (also known as Democrats) as nothing more than mean-spirited bigots. The pathetic part is the fact that most left-wingers justify their inappropriate behavior with smug smirks. As a former viewer of both MSNBC and CNN, this is simply the way the ignorant act.

    December 31, 2013 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  2. Angel

    I so agree with Steve Harnack, all this outrage is a joke this is the same man that wanted to take away everything he could get his hands for blacks and other minorities if he had been elected. I would like to know when the adoption was done certainly not doing his run for president. Also I find it so funny the Fox News and other station can tear down our current president with no problem at all and because these people expressed their opinion they should be fired. Ok folks pretend the work for Fox News and you will be ok with they said. Everyone has a right to their opinion whether we agree with it or not. That is apart of being an American. Last thing Rob you hit the nail on the head with your statement It's funny how the right wing stiffs get so up in arms when a liberal zings them. This uptightendness is EXACTLY why you guys are so easy to make fun of AMEN TO THAT!!!!!!!!!!

    December 31, 2013 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  3. Mike

    I guess nobody watches Fox!

    December 31, 2013 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  4. Ohio Fenian

    So where are all the conservatives defending MHP's right to free speech, the way they all jumped to the defense of the Dick Dynasty guy? Why isn't Sarah Palin defending an American's right to free speech? Oh, I get it now. Liberals have no free speech rights. Just ask the Dixie Chicks.

    December 31, 2013 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  5. pep

    That black baby is in for a tough time as he grows. He'll have to prove he was born in this country for one. let alone claiming he's the adopted son of a white millionaire. Too bad too, Romney is trying to do a good thing. for once.

    December 31, 2013 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  6. cwb

    Seriously CNN, this is the top story? Opportunistic piling on to your competition much?

    December 31, 2013 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  7. Carol B. Anderson

    CONGRATULATIONS! Your new little sweetheart is absolutely adorable! I, too, am very blessed! I have two of the most precious little great-grandsons (2 & 5) who happen to be black also. Not adopted, but their daddy is! Couldn't be MORE PROUD! We are "all" God's children! I'm so thankful for my boys, and I'm sure you are thankful too! GOD IS SO GOOD!!!

    December 31, 2013 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  8. Mrwholesomeman

    This story needs to be less about Romney and more about Miley Cyrus. What was CNN thinking?

    December 31, 2013 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  9. Sue

    While this was a very racist comment and should not be on the air, I wonder why it was okay for Phil Robertson, but not Melissa Harris Perry?

    December 31, 2013 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  10. Dave

    Cannot believe that this station even exists anymore. Such circus clowns.

    December 31, 2013 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  11. CryBabies

    @ Rob...We recognize your logic and sense of humor. Keeping it word....pathetic.

    December 31, 2013 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  12. Derek Maypearl

    This is quite benign in my opinion. No animus was intended, plus the hosts have all apologized. Now if it was Fox News or The Right, they will NEVER apologize!

    December 31, 2013 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  13. Suzy Mack

    So much for Nerd Land.... When is MSNBC gonna learn.... They spew more hate rhetoric than anyone.... They are out of control. I wish HBO would put an end to Bill Maher also. He also is WAY out there. Ed Shultz is also a loose cannon.

    December 31, 2013 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  14. Kevin

    I'm about as liberal as they come and I have never watched MSNBC and I never will. I have no use for biased reporting, no matter which side it comes from. Mr. Romney should be applauded for adopting a child of any race and most certainly not ridiculed. Really, really no excuse for this joke.

    December 31, 2013 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  15. smc

    The guy on the panel was wrong. The Republican party is only about 2% African-American. In the photo 1 of 23 is greater than 4%.

    December 31, 2013 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  16. Armando

    Great way to teach our society and children to make fun of other races.
    Whole crew should be suspended at least for a day, and then we will have something to joke about.
    The Romney's are giving this beautiful child another chance in life and this idiots that only thing they see is the skin difference.
    MSNBC should be extremely ashamed and take action!
    Great example from the Romney's

    December 31, 2013 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  17. Molon Labe

    Typical left. Complete elitists. And just because the host is black and the "singing" commenter is black... That makes it ok.

    No dolts. Racism is Racism.

    December 31, 2013 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  18. Shu

    Lighten up Francis...

    December 31, 2013 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  19. Rudy NYC

    Photos to joke about

    Let's all crack a joke when we see a photo with Pres O and all the White people behind him.
    Let's hold a rally in front of the White House. Display the Confederate Flag behind the microphones, while demanding that the President admit that he's a muslim and surrender to justice. Let's record that for prosperity and broadcast every hour on the hour for at least a whole week, while defending the man's right to free speech. That suggestion is not absurd. It's par for the course for Fox.

    December 31, 2013 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  20. Mark

    roquero66-leave it up to a Democrat/Lib to blame it on Romeny. Still beating that dead horse?

    December 31, 2013 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  21. Anthony Heyward

    I see nothing wromg with what Melissa Harris Perry said. Period. Now Duck Dynasty is another story.

    December 31, 2013 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  22. s~

    way to go MSNBC. you showed your true color again.

    December 31, 2013 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  23. EDC

    The difference in this is that liberals are cringing at what was said on MSNBC while conservatives never cringe at anything said by any conservative no matter how stupid, racist, sexist or outlandish.

    December 31, 2013 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  24. Puddin

    I believe the words of a song I learned in Sunday School as a child...."Red and yellow, black and white; they are precious in His sight; Jesus loves the children of the world."

    December 31, 2013 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  25. Greg

    Wow, what hypocrites on here. If a Republican or fox news person had made this comment you lot would already be at their door with torches and pitchforks. No wonder MSNBC is the lowest ranked news source on earth. Anyone that even considers them a serious source of journalism should never be allowed to vote again, you are too stupid to breath, much less vote.

    December 31, 2013 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
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