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. The Mayor of Medinah

    Melissa Harris-Perry is a racist slob who should be fired for her remarks

    December 31, 2013 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  2. Tony T

    Now what? Will msnbc do the right thing and fire this racist host/commentator as any conservative media outlet would have too? Stop the hypocrisy!

    December 31, 2013 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  3. Jen

    "As black child born into large white Mormon family"
    Huh? Either her real black mom gave her up for adoption or her white mom got it on with a black dude. She must still be angry growing up in a loving WHITE family. Get over it !!

    December 31, 2013 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  4. Larry

    If they weren't liberals, they would've been fired on the spot.

    December 31, 2013 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  5. Michelle

    I am a fan of MSNBC but not this particular show or the comments. Stupid thing to do but her apology seemed sincere. Fox makes stupid mistakes too, so does CNN so does FX and AE and endless "celebrities" on Twitter and on and on. Outrage is selective and blown up for news. What is most offensive is that Sarah Palin has to comment on everything and get in on another 15 minutes of fame. She REACTS to everything but comes up with ZERO original thoughts on her own.

    December 31, 2013 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  6. tankrotchild

    Ahhh...the Liberal creed: "Preach tolerance for all unless you are a straight white christian, we hate straight white christians"

    December 31, 2013 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  7. Melly

    If it had been a black family with an adopted white kid, and a black person joked about the "white kid" would an apology be expected as well? Absolutely not. Reverse racism is rampant in America. Everyone needs to just chill and quit making everything a big deal. Black people have comedy skits making fun of white people, but the second a white person says anything about a black person it's a HUGE deal. It's white peoples fault, they need to learn to stand up for themselves and stop bowing down to the politically corrects.

    December 31, 2013 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  8. IpseCogita

    Typical of the left, bigotry is OK as long as it's aimed in the right direction.

    December 31, 2013 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  9. jim weber

    Democrats. What else needs to be said.

    December 31, 2013 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  10. Anonymous

    the meaning of the name "Kieran" in Celtic is "black". isn't this amazing?!!

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

    MHP has always appealed to the lowest common denominator. It's an anything goes, no holds barred, make-up-the-story-as-we-go-along syndicate. This lady ought to be removed from her position there and remanded to 1000 hours of sensitivity training. She isn't smart, offers nothing intelligent to the public debate, and is of no value other than to find refuge in the confines of the racial antagonists of our day.

    December 31, 2013 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  12. Mrwholesomeman

    Wow, this guy sure spawned a lot of offspring. Simply ghastly.

    December 31, 2013 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  13. Democrat in K

    II am a fan of MSNBC; I am a democrat; I never liked or respected Mitt Romney because I felt I could see through his politics. Long ago I grew really tired of Melissa Harris Perry because her format is race, race, race, race......and then a few other tidbits. For one who constantly sings the race song....she showed her true colors on this. Time for her to go! And for God's sake, lose the damn cornrows for once!!! Ick!

    December 31, 2013 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  14. Anonymous


    You know this wouldn't be a story if FOX didn't have staff hired to watch MSNBC. I also wonder if comedy shows are why FOX has such high ratings too.
    Because unlike you who believe everything that MSNBC say, which as everyone knows in not a news channel but a propaganda channel for Obama and the Democrats. The Fox news channel and CNN are hard hitting news channels that are full of professional news reporters that provide upto the date and currnet and world news.

    December 31, 2013 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  15. The Mayor of Medinah

    A typical remark from the that awful pathetic excuse for a news organization, it just shows their true racist feelings.

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

    The sad part is seeing all the folks on here defending this behavior. Im sure it it was FOX news doing the same thing to a liberal politician, the same people defending this behavior would be ready for blood. Hypocrisy abounds.

    December 31, 2013 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  17. 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 built boats and sailed to America.

    December 31, 2013 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  18. kot

    the meaning of "Kieran" in Celtic is "black". amazing!!

    December 31, 2013 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  19. sandiegowatch

    MSNBC / Liberals / Democrats...those are the most vile people I've ever met.

    They also happen to be the same people who, instead of giving words of encouragement, are always so negative.

    December 31, 2013 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  20. newton

    If he became president, I'm sure the jokes would have been much worse.

    December 31, 2013 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  21. Juliet Bruce

    The media disgusts me.

    December 31, 2013 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  22. Common Sense

    So just how long do we whites have to apologize to blacks for what "we" did way back in the past?
    What happened to our freedom of opinion & the right to free speech, expressing ourselves?
    More importantly: When are all the blacks going to apologize for ALL the crimes they have–and are committing–and are jailed for for right now?
    Where are those apologies?

    Political Correction: Oh, that's right: We made them do these crimes.

    December 31, 2013 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  23. Javier

    Melissa – just another lying, racist Liberal working for the media. Unfortunately, there are thousands of liberally twisted and deceptive journalists like her. This may get her promoted to a nice job in Obama's administration.

    December 31, 2013 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  24. john-117

    Typical liberal response to anything they don't like. Mock and make fun of it. Very mature response.

    December 31, 2013 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  25. db

    What am I missing here? What did they say that was offensive... just that one baby looks different than the others?

    December 31, 2013 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
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