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. IndInJax

    Controversy aside, the kid is cute and seems to be happy

    December 31, 2013 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  2. Alfonso Bergamo

    I want to read about resignation letters next

    December 31, 2013 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  3. wendel

    oh grow up Romney now has his token so he or one of his sons can make another run. with all their money im sue someone else will be taking care of the child. they could adopt more they can afford it repos use any excuse to complain what do you expect from people that watch duck dynasty

    December 31, 2013 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  4. gypsytoo

    hmm, do i recall something from a past election – me thinks bush and mccain in their primary – maybe 2000? bush running at the mouth that mccain had a black child? was there outrage then?

    December 31, 2013 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  5. mattindc

    MHP needs to be fired. That beng said, perhaps Romney is going after that 47% of Americans who HE feels THEY feel are ENTITLED and dependent on the Govt.?

    December 31, 2013 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  6. Fran Jolly Loomis

    I am very happy that the Romney's son and daughter-in-law chose to adopt a multi-racial child. My former husband and I are white from Oklahoma. In the 70's we adopted three multi-racial children. I am so proud of my two sons and daughter! I am proud to be their real Mom.

    December 31, 2013 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  7. critical thinking

    Lets boycott MSNBC. The 5 people that continue to watch, please change the channel in protest.

    December 31, 2013 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  8. #get over yourselves

    I agree that what was discussed was pathetic, however, it pales in comparison to the crap that is discussed on the Faux News network and no one over there ever apologies. Move on!

    December 31, 2013 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  9. rick7809

    If MSNBC wishes to be taken seriously they have to stop stuff like this. Just how stupid can some people be.

    December 31, 2013 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  10. Tad

    MSNBC is trying SO hard to get ratings.................and they FAIL each and every time. I mean, really, who would waste a moment watching that garbage show?

    December 31, 2013 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  11. terry

    Just hipocritical Democrat/Liberal stuff. Happens everyday. They are in fact guilty of exactly what they accuse the Republicans of.

    December 31, 2013 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  12. MikeyX

    It's funny to me that the LEFTY LIBERALS are crying "fake outrage". It was these same LEFTY LIBERALS who CREATED the monster "fake outrage" via the political correctness machine. And it was the liberal media that fed that monster. Now, Frankenstein is turning on his creator...AND HE'S HUNGRY!

    December 31, 2013 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  13. M

    I get the jist of the joke (the family is about as diverse as a small town in southern Indiana) but the joke did cross the line. To even infer that a child is a token is not even remotely funny. Maybe when the child gets older he can joke about it but right now it's just plain mean.

    December 31, 2013 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  14. Rosslaw

    Maybe the Romneys can just self-deport.

    December 31, 2013 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  15. liberal hogwash

    Mitt Romney proved himself to be an ideal candidate for the Presidency but big bucks made sure he didn't get it.

    Romney always came across as a loving family man who did so much good for others and always acted with respect.

    America [and big bucks] chose a lying, spineless narcissist who laughs, jokes and takes stupid 'selfies' throughout Nelson Mandela's State Funeral and flirts openly with yet AN OTHER woman – humiliating his wife in front of the world's cameras while representing America!
    Goid bless Mr Romney and his lovely wife – they are an example to us all.

    December 31, 2013 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  16. LOL

    Really, why are folks offended by this? Folks should be offended that he made it far enough to almost win the election, just saying.

    December 31, 2013 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  17. sly

    The jokes were funny – call em' as you see em'.

    Besides, any joke at the expense of a Rich White Millionaire who Pays 3% Taxes is funny.

    Mitt – you are a joke, and it is fun to make jokes at your expense.

    December 31, 2013 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  18. murpis

    Interesting that is says they apologized AFTER they received criticism. Don't apologize just to save face. Apologize because you mean it.

    December 31, 2013 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  19. humored

    Truly understanding the benefits of adoption especially between races I found the jokes to be funny. In no way did I see them as an attack on the "baby" (name?) Or the family's choice to adopt. This very public family has been the focus of jokes in the past and will be in the future. I am also guessing their elite group of friends find this adoption touching, but are they truly accepting of the diversity of the situation?

    December 31, 2013 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  20. Steve Handley

    I don't see what's so controversial about sayng the girl may one day wed Kanye West's son. Stranger things have happened... It would be nice if conservatives cared more about the African-Americans in this country instead of adopting them from abroad.

    December 31, 2013 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  21. DC Observer

    If the Duck Dynasty were a news show, their ratings would dwarf MSNBC and their left wing radical haters ....MSNBC is a spokesgroup for the DEMOCRTAIC PARTY - that should tell you why Obama has such low ratings and why Harry Reid and nancy Pelosi are two of the most hated pols in DC

    December 31, 2013 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  22. liberal hogwash

    Sorry GOD bless the Romney family.

    December 31, 2013 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  23. The Liberal Perspective

    If MSNBC was wrong about this, what else are they wrong about?

    December 31, 2013 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  24. Doug Wilson

    I am sure this child will have a good home and a better life because of the Romneys. This type of attack is not unusual for Melissa Harris-Perry. Her show and attitude has always been racist and is the reason we do not watch MSNBC. I hope this network will see through her hateful racist attitude and replace her with someone that is more fair.

    December 31, 2013 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  25. mike

    Is THIS what CNN thinks is the world's biggest news story right now? *facepalm*

    December 31, 2013 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
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