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. Ron Nixon

    No issue with MHP, she is not the one who said "one of these things is not like the other". You people, both libs and con's are too sensitive. Both sides look at each other and complain about any comments that are made and then pressure the stations to fire them. Just turn off your freaking TV's and develop your own brains.


    December 31, 2013 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  2. ncwriter

    "...I apologize IF I offended..." is not an apology. It is a conditional statement that places the blame for her actions on those are offended. It sends the message the she is not the problem, those who are offended have the problem.

    A bad apology AT BEST. An insincere feeling behind it betrayed in the choice of words is the way I read it.

    December 31, 2013 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  3. Natalie

    And where are all the apologies for the crap slung at Obama all these years? Are these the same blowhards that scream "freedom of speech" for Duck Dynasty hate mongers? Romney did plenty to attempt to deface Obama, I really could care less what color kid his family will be a rainbow colored one so he can pretend to accept gays too. Joke.

    December 31, 2013 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  4. Chas

    Sad that this happens while the racially motivated "knockout game" is essentially ignored by MSNBC.

    December 31, 2013 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  5. ratickle

    MSNBC needs to indefinitely suspend Dean Obeidallah and Melissa Harris-Perry for exchanging hateful opinions.

    December 31, 2013 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  6. Crampon

    I don't care where the line is drawn, I just don't want it to be politically motivated every time. I would think that the side who always accuses others of racism and intolerance, should be more tolerant. When you call White people racist who have Black children, I don't see how that is a smart political move, or very tolerant.
    Is Jesse demanding a meeting with NBC yet?

    December 31, 2013 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  7. adibese

    I'm sure all the Duck Tards will rise up in support of their free speech. Any minute now.

    December 31, 2013 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  8. jrsgta

    The next Token for his son, when he runs for president in 8 years

    December 31, 2013 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  9. ChrisM

    Duck Dynasty's Phil Robertson Suggests Men Marry 15-Year-Old Girls in Newly Surfaced Video. Where is your outradge you rwnjs !!!

    December 31, 2013 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  10. everythinghastobeaboutyou

    This is headline news? In other news a white child spent the ages of 3-18 in the foster care system because he wasn't trendy enough to adopt.

    December 31, 2013 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  11. mkuske

    This woman goes on and on lamenting the lack of inclusion for blacks - in fact that's how she makes her paycheck - yet mocks those that practice inclusion in what may be the most personal way possible. She has absolutely zero credibility and has been exposed for what she is: a disingenuous, two-faced race baiter.

    December 31, 2013 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  12. JC

    Of course a bunch of racist comments from the liberal side. Just as bad as tea baggers. I'm sick of the rhetoric from all sides. Who cares if his kid adopted a black kid? That kid will have a better life that most of us combined.

    December 31, 2013 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  13. porichkid

    the baby looks happy that's all that matters poke fun at all the wealthy that don't adopt

    December 31, 2013 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  14. datablade

    What a dunce this guy is (see post below). No wonder MSNBC and their followers are not perceived as intelligent.

    Romney is STILL NOT My Hero
    Okay, I was on hiatus for a long time. I was starting to get carpal tunnel from responding to all the stupidity in Washington DC, BUT I cannot keep quiet any longer. There is a whole network committed to bashing the current President of the United States (AKA. Faux News Channel) AND that hasn't stopped them from continuing the hate. So, I applaud MSNBC. Keep up the good work!

    December 31, 2013 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  15. Tom

    Waste of time to read. Who cares!!!!

    December 31, 2013 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  16. MontanaTrace

    As expected, it's always the liberals that are first to cry out, "Racists!" and yet are the first to act it out. Bigots without Boundaries!

    December 31, 2013 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  17. hitman

    Typical racist comment from the liberal right wing media!

    December 31, 2013 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  18. hankvreeland

    What is the surprise about the comments. Liberals know that they have been appointed from on high to direct all of the lesser mortals.

    December 31, 2013 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  19. Festivusfortherestofus

    What I see here is not the adopted child which to me is fine rather the immense size of some Mormon families. We live in an overpopulated world and its not right to keep on propagating.

    December 31, 2013 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  20. Jolat

    It's the only way they get any attention. Nobody watches MSNBC. The Hallmark Channel has a higher rating.

    December 31, 2013 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  21. sally

    Bad taste, but is this really news. I watched it and there were plenty of laughs tonObama. Cute baby, loving family, the end.

    December 31, 2013 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  22. Jim

    Does Melissa and the rest of the far left liberals at MSNBC have the guts to make fun of Angelina and Brad? disgust me!

    December 31, 2013 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  23. brestrong

    The romney family should be applauded for upholding family values in a world where having children is looked down upon.

    December 31, 2013 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  24. Rachel

    What is it with MSNBC and the people who work there? You have Alec Baldwin ranting about gays. Martin Bashir saying nasty things about Sarah Palin. You have Ed Schultz having to apologize for calling Laura Ingraham a bad name. MSNBC is such an embarrassment and they call Fox News an illegitimate news organization? Pot meet kettle.

    December 31, 2013 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  25. Thor

    So.... it is fine if someone disparages caucasions (white folks) ? Just appologize and it is all over? What HAS happened in the past when the angst went the other way?

    December 31, 2013 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106