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. pat f

    MSNBC should remove them from the air waves.
    Cruel, racist and insensitive comments pandering for laughs is inexcusable.

    December 30, 2013 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  2. TheOpinionatedOne

    What a lovely family. MSNBC is not my network of choice. No class there.

    December 30, 2013 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  3. Name. new

    Didn't c anythng wrong. MSNBC has done nomore than fox has done

    December 30, 2013 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  4. Susan White

    Completely disgusted by the comments and MSNBC.

    December 30, 2013 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  5. Ray Wilson

    MSNBC they still on tv. WOW

    December 30, 2013 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  6. dudley

    The number of people who take time to comment (1) on CNN (2) about MSNBC (3).

    This has to be just about the smallest subset of people that can be imagined.

    December 30, 2013 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  7. Tony G

    Why is it that MSNBC must apologize for "supposedly" racial remarks but when a Conservative says something of that same nature, dude from Duck Dynasty, he doesn't have to apologize AND gets his job back.
    Conservatives are hypocrites.

    December 30, 2013 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  8. Joe Hates Government

    Just more proof that the left are racists and bigots. Been like that for 160 years, and it will never change. Pathetic losers.

    December 30, 2013 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  9. Amused

    Everyday the bigotry and hatred of the left becomes more apparent.

    Or, as we used to say: Hope and Change!

    December 30, 2013 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  10. Mike VA

    Really? What is wrong with MSNBC and Comcast??? Imagine if Bill Oreilly would make fun of a balck kid on tv? The left would have demanded capital punishment for him (Bill). This is wrong by all accounts. MSNBC should apologize.

    December 30, 2013 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  11. Dass

    Jolat, At least you are honest about a "system" that exist for 'black people' in this country that prevents some white to accept them as equal. I kind of wonder why Romneys are adopting a black kid after his '47%' comment which was nothing but dog whistle, during his last presidential campaign. Nevertheless, my hats off to them for doing so. Hope that kid would grow up to accomplish what Mitt couldn't, i.e. be the president of this great country.

    December 30, 2013 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  12. Rich

    The child was the collateral damage of typical liberal hate spew, directed at Romney, who they all despise in unison. These MSNBC hosts forget that in the bubble they occupy, charming each other with hate talk about anything to the right of themselves, might be construed by anyone outside that bubble as hate itself. Not surprising, as so few outside their own actually watch this garbage.
    It's why their liberal radio, which I do sample from time to time, eventually tires even themselves and will soon disappear.

    December 30, 2013 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  13. goodformitt

    Not a Romney supporter but, the man sure has a beautiful treasure trove of grandchildren. Good for him, his family and the parents of the adopted child. They opened up their home to a needy child and that speaks volumes for where their hearts are. That is all that need be said about the picture. Keep the negativity away from children.

    December 30, 2013 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  14. Palmela

    It's absolutely obscene that any family has produced "almost two dozen grandchildren" of any color, adding to the woes of our already hopelessly overpopulated planet.

    December 30, 2013 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  15. BrownSugarinTexas

    Just like Duck Dynasty "it's freedom of speech" No one complained about Duck Dynasty and what they said. According to Duck Dynasty the baby would have been better off in the 1960's. And personally as an African American the Romney don't need that baby. What are they going to teach him "you are a part of the 47% we are a part of the 1%.

    December 30, 2013 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  16. Jim

    MSNBC's hosts can't help themselves. If Romney gave everything he had to charity, they would complain he should have given more and to a different set of charities. When his son adopts a black baby, they just can't help themselves. It's not that they're racist or insensitive. They're just filled with stupid hate for Republicans or Romneys. They can't help it.

    December 30, 2013 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  17. Tom Kennedy

    It's MSNBC, what do you expect?

    December 30, 2013 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  18. notogop

    Jolat: If Mitt and cohorts had their way, there would be no system in which this child could be stuck. MSNBC really screwed the pooch this time. You should leave the racism and hatred to Fox News. They are professionals.

    December 30, 2013 08:54 pm at 8:54 pm |
  19. Robert Rufus

    How long until they convert him to a different religion? If I recall correctly, from my exposure to the Mormon Church, they don't readily accept black people.

    December 30, 2013 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  20. llatpoh

    Look who the REAL racists are...
    the good news is people are waking up to the truth...

    December 30, 2013 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  21. Robert Rufus

    And yes, I was a member for a short time.

    December 30, 2013 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  22. Steffieloves

    I guess it's okay for liberal Hollywood to adopt a black child. (Madonna,Brad Pitt and Angie Jolie) But any one that the liberal press does not like they judge! Pretty scary if you ask me.

    December 30, 2013 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  23. areyouforseriousmyboy

    There is racism in both parties. But Liberals, whooo man they just take the cake. Tolerance my left foot.

    December 30, 2013 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  24. Whstever1784

    First obamacare and now this. When will the right stop whining when the left does something the right has been doing for decades?

    December 30, 2013 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
  25. J

    Well, that's just stupid, ridiculous, childish. And I'm a democrat.

    What an adorable baby. I may think Romney is a nitwit but his grandkids are cute.

    December 30, 2013 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
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