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. Repubs go away

    Why are repubs or cons upset? Freedom of speech. Remember the duck tales guy Phil Robertson. Don't be hypocrites.

    December 31, 2013 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  2. ThinkAgain

    P.S. to my post: I challenge all the righties here that are so incensed by these MSNBC's hosts to reach out to the African-American community – and ALL communities different than theirs – in an effort to lessen the divides in our country.

    What a better way to start the New Year than by recognizing the humanity in all of us and acting with compassion, hope and love?

    December 31, 2013 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  3. It gets better

    Haha wait until you find out what that poor child's name means, so disrespectful.

    December 31, 2013 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  4. tampamike

    I also sugges all you outraged viewers actually watch the segment, they were not making fun of the child, they were talking about the hyprocrisy of the Gop. So you can watch and see or be like sarah palin and comment on something you haven't read or seen. Which one do you think is the smarter option?

    December 31, 2013 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  5. LauriM

    Obviously ol' Rupert Murdock doesn't like MSNBC and others calling out all of Fox News' lies and slander so he has started a mass offensive to try to put it back on MSNBC for anything they say that can be, in the smallest, imaginary way, called racist or hateful. Compared to what Fox News and the rest of his empire puts out 24/7, the silly things the MSNBC people are supposed to apologize for is child's play. Has anyone on Fox News EVER apologized for lying to people and being racist and anti-gay? Nope. They know they are wrong before they do what they do so there's no way they are going to apologize for it.

    December 31, 2013 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  6. samantha

    Happy New Year, 1964!

    December 31, 2013 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  7. DaveE

    I hope once 2014 arrives and the real side affects of Obamacare kick in and the Republicans gain control of the senate, these bleeding heart liberal communist-leaning Democrats will come to their senses and realize what a faux president looks like. Someone( Bill Ayres types) pull his strings and he does their biding. He does not have one cogent thought about leading us to greatness, he can only lead us to third world -like life, henceforth the disappearing middle-class that he, not George Bush, has affectively destroyed with all of the hand-outs and Obamacare. He isn't even an African American, he is 1/3 caucasian, 1/3 African and 1/3 Bedouin(muslim blood). George Bush had the most diverse cabinet, with women, asian Americans, African-Americans, ( Rod Paige- Educ. Sec., Colin Powell, Sec. of State, Condaleeza Rice, National Security and Sec. of State) Hispanic cabinet members, so do not say Republicans are an all white party without first removing the plank from your own eye. You are the racistist haters, not Fox News, not Romney, not Sarah Palin nor the many newscastors of color working for Fox News. Fox News has the highest ratings of any network from 5 pm to 10pm, they are far more "fair and balanced" than the lame stream media that tries to compete. It is time for all of you pajama wearing, still liviing at home in your parents basement liberals to turn out the light and go to bed. That includes all of you race-baiters, Sharpton, Jackson, Piers Morgan,PMSNBC, CNN, Al(Gore)jaziera, ABC, NBC, CBS, etc... Boy it is great to be a Conservative, looking foward to 2014 elections.

    December 31, 2013 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  8. hkirwin


    @Get used to IT tea potty......Stop taking situations out of context. You only expose your ignorance. Even the left shuns your logic.

    The problem is he isn't a out lyer, but the norm on the left.

    December 31, 2013 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  9. Ray

    They really are as bad as fox news.

    December 31, 2013 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  10. Lovethetolerantleft

    Ah...the tolerant left. They're such good role models for the rest of us.

    December 31, 2013 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  11. C

    Yes, MHP's remarks were not necessary. But is all of this drama coming from a group of people who has a) insulted the President's wife and kids on numerous occasions; and b) has been spreading nothing but racism, bigotry, and hatred for the past 4 and a half years? All of a sudden, someone insults their "golden boy", Mitt Romney, and they're hurt and disgusted. MHP's remarks were wrong but doesn't compare to the awful, hateful, and bigoted remarks that has been made about Obama, his wife, or children. Not even close! So if these Conservatives/Republicans can't take it, they certainly shouldn't dish it out.

    December 31, 2013 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  12. hkirwin


    This entire issue is an exercise in hypocrisy for those rushing to condemn MSNBC. If you really cared about African American children, this country would be a different place. Besides, MSNBC wasn't joking about the child, just the hypocrisy of the GOP. Get real.

    They actually really believe this on the left.

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

    Shame on Romneys for publicizing their "family photo" for personal gains.

    December 31, 2013 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  14. CynicLgrrl

    This is the big story????

    December 31, 2013 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  15. Richard

    MSNBC. Shows the level of discourse on talk shows aimed primarily at uneducated housewives.

    December 31, 2013 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  16. Allen R.

    Wait, how is this different then the stupid, ignorant, racist stuff that ol' Duck dynasty dude said? I don't agree with what either one said, but just out of curiosity, what happened to the "Freedom of Speech" argument that everyone was yelling about last week? Oh that's right, you only use that when it fits your agenda. I don't care if any and all of them get fired, they said stupid stuff and the companies they work for have the right to fire them if they want. A&E and MSNBC. You see, that's how it works, people. You can say whatever you want, but don't come crying when it comes back and bites you in the ass. It drives me nuts that this country is so hell bent on having some big class/political war over every stupid little thing, as if people saying dumb stuff to the media is something new.

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

    Good job Romney the kid is in a good family that can certainly raise to be a good and productive person

    December 31, 2013 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  18. matt

    Hasn't MSNBC learned anything over the past few weeks. They should have used the Bible as a reference before they made their jokes. They way they can say anything they want. They would even have people putting signs in their front yard that read " I support MSNBC's right to free speech"

    December 31, 2013 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  19. Lolo

    You know the GOP/TP Klan will say nasty things when someone else does it, but thinks it is okay for them to say whatever they want. Now that is hypocrisy. Anyhoo Romney's son and wife adopted the child. Not saying they do not love the child, but it is a step in the right direction after his idiotic 47 percent comment. Now they are trying to be diverse so that when one of his sons try to run for president they can put the child on display for pople to say see look we like black people too. Also I do not think the comments were no more outrageous than the things that have been said about our first black president from the TP KKK Klan and their GOP cohorts. I know they have selective momories and will swear that they never said it as usual. GOP/TP please go look at Duck Dynasty, because that is exactly how you think, jusk like that hillbilly family .

    December 31, 2013 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  20. Tony in Missouri

    Here we go again! The right has pulled every piece of disrespectful dialect towards both the President of the US, and the American people as a whole. Somehow the right always gets their "feelings hurt", when someone yells back, and the media puts a diaper on those clowns, ...with how wrong the gotp is been mistreated. The game is over, ...the jig is up, and the American people know it. Media outlets need to really watch the bogus fires that they are feeding, ...or they will go the way of the soon to be defunct, tp.

    December 31, 2013 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  21. Jose Luis

    Using skin color for easy joke is dirty, use a baby is doubly dirty

    December 31, 2013 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  22. Mary

    Whether these remarks were intended to point out the hypocrisy of the GOP is beside the point. It totally crossed the line and made those doing the mocking look like total fools.

    December 31, 2013 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  23. Compton

    Disgusting comments especially from a liberal station. Host and panelist should be fired on the spot!

    December 31, 2013 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  24. Jim

    She should be fired from the show, just like everyone else that says something joking that is not politically correct. Fire her...

    December 31, 2013 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  25. Ichi

    The panel will probably be fired, but the Duck Dynasty star who argued that black people were "happier" before Civil Rights and says that men should marry 15 year olds will stay at A&E. Money talks!

    December 31, 2013 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
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