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. Rudy NYC

    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
    I learned that Santa Claus is white, and so was Jesus.

    December 31, 2013 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  2. hkirwin

    Big Will

    adoption of a black child is only this families latest attempt to look like they give a crap about anyone but high white society. another gimmick with a child caught in the middle of Mitt Dumbney's family scams...

    Honest question, was there any love in your family?

    December 31, 2013 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  3. Jason

    Why doesn't anyone talk about that loser anymore?

    December 31, 2013 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  4. Bill

    The media outlets in America have become the central player of politics. Romney and Obama have good things and bad things. The media have heavily focused on the good things of Obama and the bad things of Romney. As a matter of fact, they completely destroyed Romney. In real democratic society, the media is supposed to deliver what the people want to say, but now they deliver the message that makes the white house loves them, just like in third word countries. Obama is extremely smart. He seduces the media and he is winning their sole.
    The media should never be aligned with any party. I understand this, simply because I migrated from a country that has the same bad practices.

    December 31, 2013 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  5. Jay

    Disgusting of these so called news panelist!!! Now they should lose their jobs PIGS! I will never ever watch that channel again!

    December 31, 2013 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  6. Mick

    I believe the panelists were making fun of Romney being a Republican. Fair game. Anyone thinking otherwise is only looking for ammo.

    December 31, 2013 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  7. cable news stinks

    The reason they make stupid comments like that is because they are too focused on "entertaining" us and not focused on being serious,intelligent, professional, and analytical journalists. Whatever happened to the days when we got real critical news instead of this garbage? That's why I don't watch cable news anymore – they're all guilty, including CNN cable news, for acting like a bunch of bubbleheads. And then they read off a teleprompter but their delivery style is typical of a teenager using uptalk style delivery (sounding like they ask a question with a declarative statement). So, like, you know that bomb that went off in Russia? Well, check this out. According to on one witness? They like saw the whole thing?

    December 31, 2013 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  8. DANAC

    Kieran means little dark one in Celtic.

    December 31, 2013 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  9. stratys3

    So unimpressed. Her comments and those of her panelists are just ignorant. I would be horrified if someone used the fact that my grandchild was of a different race as fodder for a lame joke. I also think that if you preface your apology with "I didn't mean any offense" – which, let's face it, you obviously did – that it's not genuine.

    December 31, 2013 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  10. no mas

    @SC–This was a mocking of a beautiful thing. Adoption, regardless of race, gives an unwanted child a chance to be wanted and loved. HOW DARE YOU turn this into something political! There is ABSOLUTELY NO WAY to spin this to the GOP. This is a perfect example of liberal hypocrisy.

    December 31, 2013 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  11. Bart Hawkins

    "I did not mean to harm you, but it seems I have?"

    How could this idiot's comments be heard ANY OTHER WAY?

    This woman, and the ENTIRE PANEL, should RESIGN IMMEDIATELY.

    Amazing that the most liberally biased media organization in the HISTORY of mankind can allow some racist person like THIS to even be NEAR the studio, much less on a panel show.

    For SHAME, MSNBC. Seems you can bash Republicans all you like, but once one of your Liberal miscreants step out of line, you have her issue a non-apologetic LAME fake apology.

    The ENTIRE PANEL must resign for this little tidbit of SCRIPTED and APPROVED racism.


    December 31, 2013 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  12. Burt Ward

    The ultimate abject and complete arrogance and total hypocrisy and self-impacting, self inflecting arrogance of the Democratic Party at its total encyclopedia defining best. A good Democrat is a dead one.

    December 31, 2013 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  13. Person

    I bet over half the enraged people here would laugh at the Steve Martin movie The Jerk.

    December 31, 2013 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  14. Burt Ward

    The ultimate abject and complete arrogance and total hypocrisy and self-impacting, self inflecting arrogance of the Democratic Party at its total encyclopedia defining best. A good Democrat is a 6-foot planted one.

    December 31, 2013 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  15. George Dixon

    The only mainstream overt racism in America today is from the Democrats

    December 31, 2013 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  16. Alomerado

    I don`t think Romney even cares. He has a fantastic family and that little child just got a fantastic opportunity to be raised by great people that will love him and teach him great principles. His future will be fantastic. All the rest of the people you can either be jealous and joke about it to try to make you feel better because you won`t have this opportunity or you can be more Christ-Like and be happy for the blessings of others

    December 31, 2013 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  17. Thomas A. Hawk

    SC, I think it's safe to assume that the Romney's care about Kieran.

    December 31, 2013 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  18. zenthrop

    OBAMA: Ancestors slave sellers,Father a Marxist, Harvard funding unknown, Transcripts and thesis not released, Mentored by Frank Marshall Davis (card carrying, FBI tracked communist), Community Organizer (3 or 4 jobs), 20 years with Jeremiah Wright’s black liberation theology (class warfare), one term senator who was never there, mortgage paid by Tony Rezko (now in prison), Bill Ayers friend (radical terrorist), “The Food Stamp President” (touts the ‘workers paradise’ lie), Solyndra (-1100 jobs),War on coal (-9000 jobs),Stimulus (-100000 jobs),"The most dangerous president in modern American history" (Marxist behind a huge federal power grab.), “After my election, I’ll have some flexibility”, “We can’t wait on Congress”, Tyrant above the law.

    December 31, 2013 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  19. Eric

    Why are there comments here about Duck Dynasty? Or about President Obama? Or about democrats and republicans? This is a story about a baby that happens to be black who has been adopted into a white family. I personally think it is absolutely great that this child has been adopted and now has a family to love and be loved by. Why this supposedly professional "news" anchor feels it is ok to make fun of this family and this child on the air only because he is black and this family is white truly amazing. Is there really any wonder why we still have racism issues in America? According to Wikipedia (I know this is a bad source) Interracial adoption grew significantly from 1999 to 2005 where it reached its peak year at 585 adoptions to the United States. With probably thousands of interracial adoptions now occurring in the past 10 years I think it would be totally appropriate (using MSNBC standards) to publish all these family photos on national TV and make fun of them. Maybe we could make it into a regular MSNBC program? Or perhaps there was really another agenda? And in case the liberal population does not understand sarcasm (which they do not) I was kidding. Peace on earth and goodwill towards all mankind.............wouldn't that be great to achieve MSNBC? Look in the mirror and take responsibility for your actions without pointing elsewhere.

    December 31, 2013 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  20. lordofsatire2013

    This is your lead story? Really?

    December 31, 2013 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  21. peter

    SC this has nothing to do with the GOP. She should be fired.

    December 31, 2013 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  22. bryan

    funny the left HATES Romney and his family because he dared to run against obama. if he never ran for president he would be the republican they liked the best

    December 31, 2013 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  23. brown


    December 31, 2013 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  24. Zack

    Pretty tasteless on all of their parts. I mean seriously..... The Romney's are a beautiful and loving family and that child is lucky to have their unconditional love. We should all be so fortunate.

    December 31, 2013 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  25. zenthrop

    ROMNEY: father was president of American Motors and three term governor of Michigan and worked with MLK, mother ran for senate, he was unpaid missionary for two years in France (long, hard, discouraging work days), valedictorian, Harvard MBA (top 5%), Harvard JD (with honors), unpaid Mormon bishop (to the 99%) unpaid Mormon stake president (to the 99.9%), gave away inheritance, Staples (89,000 jobs), Sports Authority (15,000 jobs), Domino's Pizza (7,900 jobs), quarter-billionaire, wealth placed in blind trust (no one owns him), saved Olympics, Massachusetts Governor where half of his staff were women with equal pay (four years of balanced budget and surplus), five very successful sons (three with MBAs from Harvard, one in medical residency), 18 grandchildren (cares about US future, not his own power), long happy marriage, turnaround artist for the nation.

    December 31, 2013 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
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