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. Chul Kim McGuire

    MSNBC = a tabloid media outlet of flunked b rated entertainers! They are NOT journalists! SHAMEFUL!

    Lot of hate filled commentators on that show – usually against one party!

    This post is from an Independent thinker!

    December 31, 2013 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  2. Earl

    Sarah Palin
    Dec 18, 2013

    "Free speech is an endangered species."

    December 31, 2013 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  3. Krenwinkle

    I see a car roof in this kid's future. My problem is not this sweet child, it's the Romneys. They are not fooling me, and certainly not a lot of other people. They are heartless corporatists who wouldn't wipe their Oxfords on typical African Americans and others they deem not country club worthy. Being perfectly fair, I don't see much difference between them and the Clintons, of the disgusting racist campaign of 2008, if anyone has the attention span to remember it.

    December 31, 2013 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  4. Theknightof86

    Ok.. Let me be clear... I'm as liberal as they come.... And I'd have NEVER voted for Romney... But... Seriously!? "One of these things is not like the other" Really!? I can't even articulate how or why that upsets me so much. It's a baby for goodness sake! Gosh... This makes me sick. Leave our children out of this vitriolic political environment. Unbelievable.

    December 31, 2013 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  5. Jim970

    I do not want to see any more comments implying that Republicans are racist and Democrats (i.e., liberals) are not. The liberal media needs to stop idolizing themselves and take a serious look at their behavior. Reprehensible only begins to describe it.

    December 31, 2013 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  6. John Hillman

    Change starts one step at a time. The Romney's took that step then were ridiculed for doing so. Instead of being congratulated and encouraged, they were ridiculed.

    The protestation that "I did not mean to" is hollow. No one forced them to make the remarks or to pile more on. Speech is voluntary. Just as people should wait before clicking "SEND" on a Tweet or email these idiots should have engaged their brains before speaking.

    The people that "hate" hate by spewing their own version of "hate" would be amusing if it were not so sad.

    December 31, 2013 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  7. Ken

    Yet more racism and bigotry from the left. Ho hum.

    December 31, 2013 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  8. lblfm

    Are you kidding me? such insensitivity. She should be summarily fired. An apology just doesn't do enough.

    December 31, 2013 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  9. Nick Shafer

    MSNBC is the epitome of core liberalism. They are Obama's parallel mouthpiece.

    December 31, 2013 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  10. AJ

    Man, there are some silly comments on here.

    First of all, you should leave the kid alone. I'm not going to condone whatthe MSNBC commentators said, as it seems pretty tastelss. Anyone on either side of the aisle should take some issue with that, and I expect them to go the way of Martin Bashear

    Second of all, for all the people spouting off that liberals aren't denouncing this, I should point out that conservatives aren't sticking up for them either. Sure, maybe there's no Al Sharpton crusading for the hosts, but I also don't hear the Sarah palin's of the world stickiung up for them the way she did for Phil Robertson (who, by the way, said a lot worse. I don't like slandering a baby, but I also don't like taking aim at a large portion of the population).

    Lastly, on the Phil Robertson thing, he's already back, isn't he? I don't think he's really off the show for good. Bashear went off the air for good with MSNBC, and I expect the same thing here.

    And for the "liberal media" being OK with it, if they were do you think there'd be an article here? Think about that before posting. And as for the Fox equivalent, there's a lot worse things being said on Fox than anywhere else (except for Rush's show, perhaps).

    You can't say that everyone is overreacting to everything that's said and calling it offensiv and take issue with that, and then do the same thing. Guess what, you're being hypocritical. Get over it.

    December 31, 2013 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  11. rob

    Only a racist wouldn't be able to see the hypocrisy with the MSNBC "report"

    December 31, 2013 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  12. Big_D

    Where do all the comments on the Obama articles come from if this is the racially sensitive GOP? This seems rather, well shall I say, faux rage?

    December 31, 2013 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  13. lolwut

    Stupid of MSNBC, but I'm pretty sure we're still waiting to hear from Foxnews with an apology for all of the Obama Hitler references.

    December 31, 2013 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  14. Republican who supports President Obama

    Where was the outrage when Sen. Cruz's father said that our President should be deported or when Trump send investigators to Hawaii? To the right: do not jump to being sensative when you tolerated more hateful comments said in the past about our President. Yes this might be a kid but the only reason this is a story is because someone made a JOKE about a Republican family.

    Did anyone call Palin out for her stupid comments about the ACA – even though she did not read it. Did anyone call Palin out for her defense of Paterson even though she did not read a word he said.

    Stop crying over spilled milk. This was a light-hearted joke ... not an attack.

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

    Racism is racism and stupidity is stupidity no matter which side of the political fence you're on. Ms. Harris-Perry et al need to be shown the door. Their remarks were completely classless, tacky and unprofessional, not to mention racist. Shame on them!

    December 31, 2013 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  16. SD

    The comments were uncalled for. They had no place on a TV station purporting to talk about politics and any serious issues. Comparing to the speech on Fox News or any other outlet of propaganda is not company to keep. How about seriously talking about issues without name-calling, feigned indignation, and sarcasm? I know – naive, hopeful on my part.

    December 31, 2013 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  17. summer99

    People on this board are sitting here ragging on the Romneys for having all this money like its some kind of evil, yet if a celebrity like Madonna, Sandra Bullock, Charliez Theron or anyone else with their millions of dollars adopts an African child, they are praised for being so progressive. Double standard?

    December 31, 2013 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  18. Dawn Kieballs

    Give me a break, faux news and their affiliates spend 24/7 spewing their racist bs at Obama for almost 6 years now and get faux offended on Romneys behalf? Ridiculous. This show spent 3 times longer ragging on Obama, where's the outrage for that.

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

    Who has time for debate when you can insult your opponent? Pick your side, dig in and then throw mud until you feel you've won. Liberals hate Republicans. Republicans hate Liberals. You're either one or the other, there is no middle ground.

    Our nation is losing it's stability and all anyone can do it point fingers and trade jabs. Who is responsible for changing this? Clearly, the majority of you all enjoy the battlefield dynamic.

    Can we ever, truly, work together across all political parties in a absence of some national tragedy? Is anyone else starved for political uniformity and teamwork?

    December 31, 2013 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  20. jo2

    That baby is too cute!!!

    December 31, 2013 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  21. Steve

    What arrogance. He can raise his children so well now he wants to show african americans how? What a piece of work.

    December 31, 2013 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  22. Susan Brown

    There would be far fewer apologies in the world if people thought before they spoke. On the other hand, many are
    too sensitive.

    December 31, 2013 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  23. badtobone

    This is why msmbc is dead last in ratings. No one but Obama and his mimons. Watches. This crap.

    December 31, 2013 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  24. Keith

    Everyone wearing matching outfits in the picture makes his family look like a cult. Creepy.

    December 31, 2013 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  25. Pam from Iowa

    Sorry to say this but it does look like Mitt is trying to win the black vote.....a feat he will never accomplish.....the man is just too 'white' and 'rich' to EVER be able to understand how the rest of us (the 99 percent) live!
    I am white and middle class, but I was and still am appalled at how he called my father, who is on Social Security that HE paid for, and is a veteran of WWII, a no good bum! My father was part of the 47 percent.........worked his entire life......guess that makes him a bum!

    December 31, 2013 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
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