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. Norm

    I'm appalled by the comments. I'm pretty liberal too. Conservative on some issues though. But there is no place in our national discourse for this.

    It is common at other news networks, with people like Bill O'Reilly telling a black man he looks like a drug dealer. But that is no excuse. Lead by example. And if you can't, get out of the way for someone who can.

    I hold no respect for anyone who does this, regardless of what side of the aisle they sit.

    December 31, 2013 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  2. dzerres

    OK, they apologized. I'm still waiting for the "slut" apology from Rush Limbaugh. In fact I'm waiting for the very first apology from Rush or Fox News for any of their racists, homophobic, and slanderous comments about minorities, blacks, gays, women and the President, Mrs Obama or even the Obama children. Faux outrage once again.

    December 31, 2013 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  3. Brian

    wasn't it just last week that we are all wrapping ourselves in the first amendment? Oh wait, I guess that's only for homophobia. Everyone is a hypocrite. My new year's resolution is to stop reading this crap.

    December 31, 2013 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  4. Bookldy209

    You have to admit, though, dividing a family into outfits of pink and blue is nearly as much a faux, lol. Did we learn nothing from keeping the "binders?," lol.

    December 31, 2013 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  5. pal

    What would Rush Lumbaugh have said if Mitt was a Democrat? Now whine.

    December 31, 2013 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  6. Big_D

    If you think MSNBC is an authoritative source for the liberals or Democrats, you would be a FOX fanatic. MSNBC is well MSNBC. Part of being liberal is not believing what people tell you but what you experience. Liberate yourself by taking the corporate chain off your beliefs to begin with. That is pretty hard on corporate media. Ever go to a school?

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

    As a father of an adopted daughter of different ethnicity I laugh in your general direction. After the great difficulty of adoption, being pressed on every side, then the challenge of integrating a child that is different in color into this prejudice world. You think your silly comments bother anybody? Phew, spittle in the mouth. Those that join with you in your ridicule after your empty apologies, they are but vomit. The nice thing about America is that even vomit gets to have an opinion, but it still stinks.

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

    The jokes were funny. I laughed. Stop being so fucking sensitive and start paying attention to what's really going on in this country. Lets all cry about MSNBC making a fucking joke, but heaven forbid any outrage over the NSA. I'm 100% sick of this country and if I could leave I would. No doubt, someone is going to reply to this saying I'm some kind of white republican with privilege blah, blah. I could say I'm not white or republican, but someone would just assume I'm lying because I don't agree that with them, but who cares? The jokes were funny, gain a sense of humor.

    December 31, 2013 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  9. GaryDMN

    Why would anyone be shocked by anything liberals say or do? Their game is combination of hate and blame. They demonized Romney as a candidate and they don't undemonize their targets after elections. For instance, Sarah Palin is pure evil, because they say she is and repeat it a million times in the media.

    December 31, 2013 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  10. nettie


    December 31, 2013 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  11. J

    Le't s boycott MSNBC.

    December 31, 2013 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  12. DG

    This "commentator" is RACIST to the core. If a white person had said these words she/he would have been fired immediately.

    December 31, 2013 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  13. Rudy NYC

    RogerD wrote:

    Left or Right, Dem's or Rep's. Does not matter. This was cruel & sick behavior. If this had been committed on a conservative show it would have been an out right crime and Holder would have been called in to prosecute someone. How do these people sleep at night?
    They can sleep at night because they have a white Santa Claus to protect them. Where was the right wing's outrage when conservatives attacked Pres. Obama's daughters?

    December 31, 2013 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  14. Dave

    Never has a channel been more full of self-righteous liberal pontificators than MSNBC is today. It would be funny if it wasn't so sad. These people honestly believe they're smarter, more advanced, and more tolerant than the rest of humanity. Then they say things like this. The really sad part is watching them shrug off their hypocrisy like they're immune to it. MSNBC is for Democrats what talk radio is for Republicans: terrible.

    December 31, 2013 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  15. OK

    NC Guy1

    You have to love the left who can say anything. The media bias would be outraged if Sean Hannity or Rush Limbaugh said anything close to this. Hypocrisy is alive and well in CNN and the left wing drive by media.


    And amnesia is alive and well on the right

    December 31, 2013 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  16. fourth81

    Both sides need to calm down. This is kind of funny if you step back from your party and your ethnic backgrounds and just look at the humor in it. If this is what you have to worry about these days, you're either ignorant or lazy.

    December 31, 2013 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  17. Donnie the Lion

    There's plenty of reasons to make fun of Mitt Romney but this isn't one by any stretch of the imagination.

    Of course, Fox News feels it is alright to say on air that Hillary Clinton faked blood clots and concussions to avoid testifying in the Benghazi hearings and, to my knowledge, never apologized or offered any resignations.

    December 31, 2013 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  18. Chris

    Shame on you, MSNBC. Shame on all of you.

    December 31, 2013 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  19. Jeff

    I can't help but wonder how many times these people look at a picture of a black family, and make comments about the lack of diversity. More hypocrisy from far left extremists.

    December 31, 2013 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  20. B

    Since very few viewers watch MSNBC, it took a while to get noticed. Can't believe the bigotry of the extreme left.

    December 31, 2013 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  21. mypitts2

    Perry and Obeidallah had absolutely nothing to apologize for, though I understand why they did, just to tamp down the furor. Perry's joke was totally innocent. Calling a baby "gorgeous" is no insult and suggesting he may one day marry Kanye and Kim's kid is entirely inoffensive. Obeidallah was taking a (well-deserved) shot at the GOP's lack of diversity. Allen's joke was the one that was truly mean and at the expense of the baby, so an apology was appropriate. The rest of the "controversy" is just the lily-white GOP trying to take some free shots at the left.

    December 31, 2013 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  22. Sue

    The real joke here--is using MSNBC and a "news" station/source in the same sentence!!

    December 31, 2013 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  23. Big_D

    MSNBC on TV isn't the source of liberal thought libraries, schools, science experiments, art, and nature are.

    December 31, 2013 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  24. Clueless

    I'm shocked....that anyone was watching MSNBC to see it.

    December 31, 2013 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  25. oh please

    This??? Is Newsworthy?????????


    December 31, 2013 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
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