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. Bill

    oscar winning performance

    December 31, 2013 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  2. J


    Oh, the Republican outrage – yet they call the Obama family uppity, depict the President as a jungle tribesman, Palin puts crosshairs on the President, define blacks as lazy and wanting free handouts and latinos as wet-backs, yeah, what outrage.

    December 31, 2013 11:22 am at 11:22 am |

    truth hurts?

    December 31, 2013 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  3. Nancy

    It's all based on the false premise that Republicans are racists and every bit of evidence contrary to that opinion is a mockable anomaly. Dems tell themselves this to feel good about themselves and justify their irrational and emotional response to every counter opinion Republicans have on any issue... Melissa Harris-Perry also recently opined that when people use the term "ObamaCare" they're really using the n-word. Mocking a bit of legislation in her mind is equal to shouting the n-word. I guess its easier to be fake self-righteous than be a real reporter and address the pros and cons of the law.

    December 31, 2013 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  4. A True Conservative

    "I did not intend to offend..." How stupid can you be? Or do you just lie?Oh yea, you're a liberal....that explains a lot.......

    December 31, 2013 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  5. bp

    It's o.k. According to the Mormon Church, God changed his mind about black people in 1938. He made this edict from the planet Kobo while reminiscing about ancient Jews who build boats and sailed to America.

    December 31, 2013 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  6. Anonymous

    So where are the liberals? What? No comments from Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie or even Sandra Bullock on this issue? Not a peep. It's disgusting. And where's Jessie Jackson defending her on this one.

    Melissa Harris Perry proves she is still from the streets... can't take that away.
    at least republicans adopt children, instead of aborting them.

    and btw that child would be so much better off being raised by the state than by a loving, secure family…liberal idiots

    December 31, 2013 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  7. LogicBomb

    No surprise coming from MSNBC. They are a more unprofessional, liberal version of Fox News. If you want news instead of commentary, watch PBS, BBC, or Al Jazeera America. If you want people who stroke your political leanings, watch ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox, or NBC.

    December 31, 2013 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  8. Robert

    I don' t watch MSNBC or Fox, because they both prefer opinion to news. Now, if only CNN would get someone other than the crass Kathy Griffin to co-host the New Year's Eve program, I would watch it tonight. The state of journalism has deteriorated so much sine the days of Cronkite, Huntley- Brinkley, and Ed Murrow.

    December 31, 2013 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  9. Dmitry

    what's the big deal ? making fun of the republicans ? reps are a joke any-way, who else is there better to poke fut at ?:)

    December 31, 2013 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  10. A True Conservative

    @outrageous – were his children brought into the comments? I'll help with the answer.....NO.....

    December 31, 2013 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  11. sly

    How cute – the Rich White Millionaire who doesn't pay taxes got a new token.

    Cute. Ok, I'm over it.

    December 31, 2013 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  12. MKov123

    Since when did posting to twitter become an acceptable form of apology?

    December 31, 2013 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  13. independantvtr

    MSNBC and Melissa Harris-Perry and other host have little to do with news they try to spread hate and many listen. well i will get my news from other sources.

    December 31, 2013 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  14. J

    ....mean while....Dan Rather is still bitter at his former boss......

    December 31, 2013 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  15. Karen

    Really, it's not making fun of a child or adoption ?? "One of these things just doesn't belong"? How can anyone be so insensitive? A child not belonging because they are adopted and look different ? Um, the number one issue with adopted and bi-racial children is anxiety over acceptance and belonging. It is absolutely the most offensive, across the line insult you could make and the trauma for this child has the potential to be indelible and long term. Shameful!!!!!!!!

    December 31, 2013 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  16. mungo

    Since the comment came from a black person who was also kidnapped by Mormons it is a fair comment.

    December 31, 2013 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  17. ffafsd

    If you are looking for real news stories, you are in the wrong place, all we have here is entertainment.

    December 31, 2013 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  18. Rick

    MSNBC is full of hateful hosts and this is just par for the course.

    December 31, 2013 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  19. sweetpea6591

    I looked at that pic and all I saw was a lot of people in plaid and thought how cute, happy and country. I'm African American and I never saw the race of the baby. Only notice after reading this post.

    December 31, 2013 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  20. Stafa60

    Griping about "insensitivity" has become a national pastime all across the spectrum. The real source of this sort of nonsense is the proliferation of "newsertainment" on cable news networks in which show hosts and so-called analysts keep trying to demonstrate how funny they can be.

    December 31, 2013 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  21. Nogods

    The bible strongly supports slavery. Jesus never rejects it. Every large Mormon family needs someone to do the dishes right.

    December 31, 2013 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  22. Robert Gibson

    This is more fluff news; just like the Duck Dynasty crap was a week ago, anything to keep the wool pulled over the eyes of the ignorant masses! While CNN, Fox, MSNBC, etc, were reporting on the Duck Dynasty scandal, the 2014 NDAA was fast tracked through the Senate and the House! The 2014 NDAA retains indefinite detention of American citizens without due process; it adds a new spy apparatus under the Department of Defense to spy on Americans! Wake up America, you cannot stay this ignorant. it is time to see the truth of our corrupt, tyrannical government!

    December 31, 2013 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  23. Billie59

    Looks like a beautiful family..but why make all the grandkids wear the same outfit?

    December 31, 2013 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  24. Susie

    Maybe when they are done with the Romney's they can come mock this Republican's multiracial family. We fostered and/or adopted 25 children over 15 years. We found skin color to be about as important as eye color in the grand scheme of things, and that is why republicans don't spend a lot of time on the subject.

    December 31, 2013 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  25. BB

    This apology on twitter is not good enough. Comments were made on air. Therefore so should the apology.Show at least a small amount of class.

    December 31, 2013 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106