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. Chucky

    We see now the true heart of Lib,s jokers and get it when you can it is all for me.

    December 31, 2013 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  2. sratsj

    Do not try to justify their comments. The MSNBC panel's remarks were disguting, insensitive, and revealed their true nature. While I do not try to lump all liberals into this group,it is becoming a trend among those representing this (liberal -leanin) network.

    December 31, 2013 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  3. Judy Aldrich

    Oh look at that Sara Palin pointing her finger again. She can never wait to try to down grade someone who does not meet her expectations. I believe that woman can not open mouth just once and say something positive. NEGATIVE is her middle name.

    December 31, 2013 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  4. G. T. Simpson

    This is proof positive "Liberalism is a Mental Disorder"

    December 31, 2013 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  5. Craig

    fired them!!!!!! NOW

    December 31, 2013 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  6. sandyc

    "Two panelists later said their comments weren’t directed at the baby and apologized if the family was offended." BS. All of the comments regarding this photo was directed at both Mitt Romney and this beautiful black baby. There are millions of black children (also white – but this article deals with a black child) in the foster care system, desperately hoping to find a family of their own. Here is a white family who adopted an adorable black child, giving him a home, love, future and these idiots make crude jokes about it. Their attempt was to stab Mitt Romney, but in doing so, they also stabbed this child. Your apologies are not enough.

    December 31, 2013 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  7. CanadaBob

    2 things,
    "... apologized if the family was offended` Either you know the remark was offensive or you don't. Quit using the word, if.
    Whether, it is Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, MSNBC, Alec Baldwin etc. with their stupid comments, do not assume it is only the conservative side of the aisle that is insensitive.

    December 31, 2013 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  8. Tommy

    What if they'd said they felt inter-racial adoption or inter-racial marriage was the moral equivalent of bestiality or murder, based on religious grounds? After all, in Genesis, God told all the creatures to go forth and multiply, each unto their own.

    December 31, 2013 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  9. Name Gary

    About what you expect from MSNBC.

    December 31, 2013 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  10. msw

    Shame shame. Fire the host. This is not a funny matter. I am disgusted.

    December 31, 2013 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  11. stepren

    Looks like Romney and Family adopted that child just in time for the election.

    December 31, 2013 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  12. ted

    much ado about nothing

    December 31, 2013 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  13. EarthWorm

    She should be fired for her comments. But with it being MSNBC I am not surprised. The whole network is a poison to the American society.

    December 31, 2013 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  14. Oliver

    Why didn't the Black Male child get a blue shirt like the other boys. Somethings up with this whole story.

    December 31, 2013 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  15. rs

    Oh, yeah, the party of the Birthers and the TEA Party are "offended" by a lame attempt at humor they deem racist. Wonder why no one take s the Right seriously today?
    Get ready to defend Robertson's support of pedophilia soon!

    December 31, 2013 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  16. Name. Vickie Lermon

    give it a rest the person was just stating or singing the obvious I don't think it's healthy adoption. Yep all these blue eyed blonde haired children and brown haired whites Kim's kids all brothers and sisters Boone you pop in a black child how's it going to feel being a minority in their own home these people aren't even used to being around black people I sure you and then all of adult 11 for political reasons yeah why don't be in stead and how do you adopt a grand child whose kid is it did Romney say mister and missus Romney and Ops is Charles if it is its not a grandbaby is there kid and if it's this one of their children adopted it then it would be a grandchild to let you tell me who's baby is it really

    December 31, 2013 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  17. Bobby B

    As if the Republican Party is even that diverse!

    December 31, 2013 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  18. Mopery

    No reason she should lose her job, especially since Phil Roberston gets to keep his after bigoted comments, but she should be publicly shamed for making fun of an adoption. Any adoption should be praised, the child will at least have some chance at a loving family, rather than uncertainty and neglect. I hear stories all the time about people adopting from other countries, in that regard we should take care of our own first.

    December 31, 2013 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  19. DAVE

    The hypocrisy of the Dems is never ending, their war on women and now this. No wonder they are the party of hate.

    December 31, 2013 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  20. Bill Wilson

    Meh – can you give me an example? Probably not.

    December 31, 2013 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  21. Paul

    The panelists were guests on the show. They have apologized. Slow news day.

    December 31, 2013 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  22. Helaina Hinson

    MSNBC can NEVER adequately apologize for this. It was a terrible thing to do to the family, and especially the child. Adopted children should NEVER be addressed or referred to as "their ADOPTED child", but as their son or daughter.

    MSNBC always sticks its foot in its mouth on race. After the 1998 Olympics they put "AMERICAN BEATS KWAN" as the heading for their figure skating final. They meant that Tara Lipinski had beaten fellow skater Michelle Kwan....but Michelle Kwan is ALSO an American, and on the U.S. Figure Skating team. She just happens to be of Korean ancestry.


    December 31, 2013 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  23. Smarterest Human

    OF COURSE IT IS A LAUGHING MATTER! Just look at those tools! They look like an Aryan Nation meeting – Pretty in Pink version. It's CREEPY. Add a black Cupie doll and it is downright ridiculous!

    December 31, 2013 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  24. Lee

    Apologizing on Twitter is a cowards way out. It she made the ignorant statement on TV, then she needs apologize on TV. If she doesn't have the integrity to formally apologize on TV then she should turn in her PhD for a GED.

    December 31, 2013 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  25. JP

    I am a young college student. I have, for the most part, not come into agreement with most Republican views. Their stance on guns, immigration, minimum wage (< although I understand the ramifications of that); but mostly what Mitt Romney was caught saying by a hidden mic: '95% of life is set up for you if you are born in this country"..." yet his father was born in Mexico??? His views are extremely we say in NY he's a flip-flopper. With that being said there are just certain lines that should not be crossed. I am a minority and I could care less of whether or not his grandson is black or white. You don't go after a man's family. It is an extremely low blow. I may not be as mature as everyone else here, but there is right and there is wrong. The comments made by MSNBC (commentators) were wrong. It crossed the line of what is morally correct. It is shameful.

    December 31, 2013 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
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