December 30th, 2013
05:27 PM ET
8 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. Nathan

    There is always one in the woodpile...................

    December 30, 2013 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
  2. buckeyechucke

    Would you believe it another fake republican scandal, better call issa

    December 30, 2013 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |
  3. Bryan

    MSNBC: the network of intolerance, racism and hypocrisy. And they wonder why NO ONE watches. LOL

    December 30, 2013 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  4. sick of republican phonies

    Geez, it's obvious the jokes were about the republican party, not the baby. I wonder if any of the whining repulicons complained about the Obama as a witch doctor posters at tea bag rallies.

    December 30, 2013 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
  5. joeintucker

    yeah, but if any of the leftist Hollyweird crowd adopt a black child, then they are crowned heroes, compassionate and saviors of the world! MSNBC commentators are nothing but low rent Hypocrites!

    December 30, 2013 09:11 pm at 9:11 pm |
  6. Cordeiro

    So, being a racial bigot is OK as long as you are African American and a "comedian"? That little boy is going to have the very best of everything this nation, this world, has to offer. Take a good look, that Romney will be the one that makes everything Mitt has done.... very small in comparison.

    December 30, 2013 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  7. mcfx

    What's an MSNBC??? Is that like an SNL but with zero viewers???
    Liberals have it so good. Especially, white racist liberals. $10 bucks says CNN keeps the comedian.

    December 30, 2013 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  8. GOP = Greed Over People

    Wow, Con bloggers defending a black infant? That in itself is newsworthy!

    Now, if the cons can defend the ones NOT surrounded by rich, white Aryans, it would be a step in the right direction!

    December 30, 2013 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  9. pep

    Wait'll FuxNews gets a hold of this! Those snobs can't wait to spew their racist venom.

    December 30, 2013 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  10. Bert Bacharach

    Don't forget the worst comments from Mr. Dean O – note no apology, were from a regular on OK to be racist and hateful, as long as your are a liberal.

    December 30, 2013 09:21 pm at 9:21 pm |
  11. mvrunner

    I watch MSNBC. I enjoy MSNBC. But this is embarrassing. Everyone involved should be ashamed, and punished by the network.

    December 30, 2013 09:24 pm at 9:24 pm |
  12. NelsonLeonard

    The baby is just adorable. Funny thing about humor is how stupid it can sometimes sound.

    December 30, 2013 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  13. Ddtgwt

    Cannot believe that this race baiting group still have jobs. Sad when our liberal media goes out of it's way to use race to divide the country. Guess they are just doing what they see Obama and his administration doing. Like eric holder doing nothing about black on white crime but prosecuting any white on black crime as hate crime.

    December 30, 2013 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  14. lgalb

    This is sooo wrong on multiple dimensions.

    Even without the race aspect, it's very bad taste to make fun of someone's family photo. It's childish, petty and disrespectful.

    December 30, 2013 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  15. Josh

    More love and tolerance from the progressive left... Oh, I forgot, they are only tolerant if you agree with everything they say (you know, the definition of tolerance according to the Left). If you have a differing view everything you do is wrong.

    Also love that when someone from Fox News said Santa was white is was suddenly front page news criticizing Republicans of racism again... When Liberals are blatantly racist the story barely makes the website and they all get a pass.

    December 30, 2013 09:29 pm at 9:29 pm |
  16. clevercandi

    These type of thoughtless comments happen when folks put their mouth in gear before engaging their brains.

    December 30, 2013 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |
  17. Ddtgwt

    @anon, Obama was raised by his white grandparents and he is a racist so what is your point about perry? Color of your skin or your parents skin is not what determines if you are a racist.

    December 30, 2013 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  18. patlynnfor

    Reading @Deanofcomedy 's timeline in Twitter leads me to think this "apology" was only meant as cover, since he's anything but apologetic there.

    December 30, 2013 09:35 pm at 9:35 pm |
  19. Haybaler

    I do not like the Romneys, that being said my grand daughter is adopted and half black and we love her very much. Everyday we have to drive by some neanderthal who flag a Confederate flag on our way home. It make my blood boil. I can not imagine our lives with our grand daughter. Way to go Romney family your great, just don't ask me to vote for you.

    December 30, 2013 09:35 pm at 9:35 pm |
  20. Danram

    It's MSNBC. What else would you expect?

    If a panel on Fox News made fun of the mixed race grandchild of a prominent Democrat, the liberals would all be howling for blood from the rooftops.


    December 30, 2013 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
  21. Grwohio

    This incident shows the true color of too many liberals. No pun intended! Their assertion that they are for minorities ands the little guy is just not true

    December 30, 2013 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  22. Claire

    How to create fake controversy... let conservatives pretend to be offended for black people. Let it go, this is really too too fake.

    December 30, 2013 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  23. OnTheRoad

    Harris-Perry has always been and will always be a racist!

    December 30, 2013 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
  24. woodie

    He said the black child was adopted. But I stopped trusting the GOP around the time Reagan traded arms for hostages to get himself elected.

    December 30, 2013 09:47 pm at 9:47 pm |
  25. John Kirby

    Racist, hateful liberal idiots. Anyone who sponsors MSMBC should be ashamed.

    December 30, 2013 09:47 pm at 9:47 pm |
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