December 30th, 2013
05:27 PM ET
7 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 CNN.com.)

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. Bob Forsberg

    You can take Perry out of the ghetto but you can't take the ghetto out of the girl....George Bush made her do it.

    December 31, 2013 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  2. crafts n arts

    The main reason Romney adopted a black child was to try and win more votes from the black population. jk 🙂

    December 31, 2013 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  3. Tannerville

    Yet one more example why I never, EVER watch MSNBC! They are consistently one of the least professional, least trustworthy and most biased of the networks. To me what happened in this case is absolutely disgusting. They can try to say they weren't talking or making fun of the baby... well, if they are pointing out the child's differences, if they are making jokes and laughing, that is ridiculing the child and/or the loving parents who adopted him. The least offensive was probably the fact that it represents the level of Republican diversity, but even that would not have come up except for the focus one this one beautiful child. Just as sad is the fact that people are even engaging in a discussion as to if what was said was okay. Of course, it was most definitely NOT okay! I am appalled by the lack of professionalism of news networks across the board. What happened to news that was fact based versus trying to be yet another reality show that makes a joke out of life. Unfortunately, MSNBC has one again been a leader of the pack in the wrong direction.

    December 31, 2013 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  4. Rhino1

    I feel sorry for Satan because he is the one that has to put up with all this crap for all of eternity.

    December 31, 2013 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  5. Get over it

    Can't things just be funny anymore without having to mean something. Everyone has to walk on egg shells so nobody gets their feelings hurt. GET OVER IT!

    December 31, 2013 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  6. Matt

    Like conservative commentators have not mocked and ridiculed liberals before! Spare me the FAUX OUTRAGE!!!

    December 31, 2013 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  7. Fladabosco

    I'd never vote for Romney but their comments were callous and that picture of mom with the 2 kids is so heartwarming I can't believe it. Cute and sweet beyond belief.

    December 31, 2013 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  8. kalo

    As Liberal....that was uncalled for and hurtful. They should be docked pay at the very least along with the apology. News should be impartial, not partisan but if we can't have that they should at least show some humanity.

    December 31, 2013 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  9. bidness owner

    I am always amazed about how hypocritical the left really is about everything. What surprises me the most yet are all of the negative comments about FOX News. They have outstanding journalists/commentators who do not use any kind of negative smearing or words that are down-right hateful. Just watch. You may actually learn something useful

    December 31, 2013 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  10. Sophie Meyer

    Good lord, do we have to make a federal case about everything? Lighten up people!

    December 31, 2013 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  11. pauleky

    While I agree it was insensitive, the people decrying this are the same people who defended Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty fame. Free speech is free speech, right? Funny – I guess it's only free if you agree with it.

    December 31, 2013 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  12. newscale62

    At that hour, their only complaints would come from a chirping cricket, a bored cat or catatonic person.

    December 31, 2013 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  13. Meh

    I love the Faux outrage from the right. You would think they actually thought that poking fun of a rich white family adopting a child of color was something off limits – when the piles of comments regarding Madonna and Jolie and their adopted children from Right Wing pundits proves that to be incorrect.
    Hello Mr. Pot, let me introduce you to Mr.Kettle.

    December 31, 2013 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  14. Marie Chance

    I am a liberal and an MSNBC watcher. I don't like anyone even appearing to make fun of anyone's race, especially a baby. That little boy will grow up and hear about this in a few years because once on the internet it's there forever. I am sure I would dislike most of what is said on Fox but I don't watch that station, just hear about it second hand from my husband who watches it too often. Let's all be nicer and try the "do unto others" rule.

    December 31, 2013 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  15. Bryan Y.

    What's "MSNBC"?

    (not for the sarcasm impaired)

    December 31, 2013 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  16. AH

    Really! I laughed my butt off, because the joke made about that is how the Republican party looks is true! Truth always hurts. The GOP is not mad about what was said, they are just using this to find something else to hate MSNBC for. I don't give a you know what; what the GOP thinks about anything, especially this!

    December 31, 2013 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  17. Bobby

    She has to be forced off the air....

    December 31, 2013 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  18. U1234W

    Where are the Jesse Jacksons and the Obamas coming to the rescue of this child. (If I had a son, he would look that him too..)

    December 31, 2013 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  19. JimNasium

    It's tough to believe this sort of crap is considered newsworthy.

    December 31, 2013 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  20. Taken4granted

    Any journalists/broadcasters/announcers doing the same should be fired or publicly reprimanded. These issues are something they know should never be publicly attacked even for a joke. They knew better and yet did it anyway.

    December 31, 2013 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  21. Anonymous

    typical liberals

    December 31, 2013 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  22. sofork

    It seems the left can get away with anything.

    December 31, 2013 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  23. newscale62

    At that hour, their only complaints would come from a chirping cricket, a bored house cat or a catatonic person.

    December 31, 2013 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  24. APMEW

    seems MSNBC really is the most racist news on television

    December 31, 2013 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  25. U1234W

    Where are the Jesse Jacksons and the Obamas coming to the rescue of this child. (If I had a son, he would look like him too..)

    December 31, 2013 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
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