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. G G

    I believe the American public expects and should trust that those in broadcasting are and should be held to a higher standard – if they are not, then their job should be gone. This is why I stopped watching MSNBC a looong time ago!

    December 31, 2013 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  2. Namemike

    Black america is struggling because they have been denied self determination.

    December 31, 2013 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |

    Romney is fake ,, that simple ! anyone who gave support to the " corporations are people too" guy are just fools ! I got a bridge to sell the gop ,,,,

    December 31, 2013 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  4. skeptical

    more moral corruption on the part of the left wing…condemning adoption despite all the children who need a home.

    December 31, 2013 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  5. davezs1

    Only MSNBC staff could be this stupid. National Broadcasting for Communism is a dying network.

    December 31, 2013 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  6. LauriM

    "I can't believe these folks would stoop to making fun of a child's race just to get a cheap laugh"

    Quote the line that made fun of the child's race. You can't because there weren't any. You really think black people would make fun of a black baby's race? Made fun of the GOP for being almost entirely white people, yes. If someone on Fox had been telling the jokes, they would have said the Romney's adopted the black baby just to prove they were friendly to black people to get their votes. And Fox would never apologize for it and Sarah Palin and Glen Beck would come on and defend it being said.

    December 31, 2013 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  7. Stephen

    The liberal left nuts are incredible hypocrites. They feel that if they joke about something related to race, then it's just someone being funny. Had Phil Roberson said this, the bleeding heart liberals would be demanding his dismissal. I truly believe that liberalism is a mental disorder.

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

    the baby jokes were totally inappropriate; shame on them. What surprises me more, however, is the fact that they didn't notice that the Romney family apparently shops at Walmart.

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

    SC spoken like a true shell with no sense of morals---–you probably will need the dictionary for that term or look it up with your obama phone.

    December 31, 2013 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  10. stevelb1

    Its in bad taste, but its also hilarious how the Righties are outraged about this. Bunch of hypocrites.

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

    Gotta love the false outrage by conservatives. They were just screaming about Phil robertsons comments not being racist and defending his first amendment rights to speak his opinions. So touché and stfu.

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

    Lets get this done. Lets set a war date, let Democrats arm themselves. and lets get a shooting civil war started and be done with it. The people group surviving at end of it wins the control of the nation, the rest report to concentration camps. I'm ready, are you?

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

    Adopt one YMF!

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

    The joke was not about the child it was about hypocrisy of Republicans. If you are a Republican you obviously woukd not get the irony of the whole thing.

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

    Adopting a child does not make the child a grandchild, it makes the an adopted child....

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

    Sad; just another stunt to get in the White House. Just sad.

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

    At some point can we acknowledge that everybody still sees race and stop pretending it's a post-racial anything?

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

    Dominican mama 4 Obama

    It's funny how the right wing stiffs get so up in arms when a liberal zings them. This uptightendness is EXACTLY why you guys are so easy to make fun of AMEN TO THAT!!!!!!!!!!

    Making fun of others is what the left excels at. Does it make you feel better about yourself? So this is just a zing to you. I pity you.

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

    I'm waiting for Obama to say "If I had a son, he would look like the adopted Romney kid".....

    December 31, 2013 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  20. papanez

    I'd like to know where they shop for cloths or do they have a standing order with American Preppy Outfitters or something?

    December 31, 2013 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  21. puravidame

    The jokes about the baby were totally inappropriate; shame on them for that but what surprises me more is that they seem to have missed the fact that they Romney family apparently shops at Walmart.

    December 31, 2013 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  22. wmaceo

    I can't believe people are making so much over something so insignificant. Looking at the picture, obviously, the child stands out. I don't think MHP or her guest(s) were being racists at all. Compared to the things you hear/see on FOX, Beck, Limbaugh, etc. this is moot. There was no hatred or maliciousness in the comments. Sure, it was unnecessary, but something to rattle the networks, and all the pundits, Republicans, etc,, is absolutely overstated. This is ridiculous to even be an issue.

    December 31, 2013 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  23. Debby K

    Just one more reason that a LONG TIME AGO MSNBC was deleted from my home's television channel listings!

    December 31, 2013 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  24. James R Hoffa

    Way to be an insensitive bigot MSNBC

    December 31, 2013 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  25. Avis

    Funny, those people were the same ones defending Phil Robertson's right to free speech, right? He made racist comments too, far worse than what was said on MSNBC. Hypocrisy.

    December 31, 2013 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
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