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. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Sarah Palin needs to apologize to African Americans for standing with Robertson on his recent statement about gays/lesbians and African Americans, she didn't like it when here son was called retarded and demanded an apology. It's too bad she weighs in on everything before cleaning her own kitchen.

    December 31, 2013 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  2. Friends

    You are fired !

    December 31, 2013 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  3. joro

    Amazing the stupidity of the Libs at MSNBC. If a Republican had said that they would be burned at the stake. What a POS these people are. You can't call them stupid enough. They should be fired, but knowing the Libs they will probably get a raise.

    December 31, 2013 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  4. sbuler

    Fire them – this coming from a liberal.

    December 31, 2013 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  5. Uncle Sam

    They now claim to not be making fun of the black baby but who is holding him. Either way it is beyond distasteful. We live in a country where racial bias is a resident evil. We expect educated adults to be able to lead the way to our "colorless" society. Why is it even talked about.

    December 31, 2013 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  6. Big_D

    FOX invites guests from both sides then shouts their ideas over them.

    December 31, 2013 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  7. Jim

    Isn't msnbc the ones primarily saying anyone who disagrees with Obama is a racist. Maybe you libs should start thinking for yourself maybe attend a tea party and see they are NOT RACISTS and are nothing more than a political target for the left which seems to lie daily almost hourly. They attack the tea party out of fear and no other reason.

    December 31, 2013 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  8. jay

    Liberal Racists, I didn't think they existed?

    December 31, 2013 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  9. Verbal

    So what?? Blacks are funny ~ like chimps!

    December 31, 2013 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  10. iski

    Lighten up, i think i will take the sound of music versus your following of self righteous progressive liberals with no sense of ethics or morals----oops morals everything is in gray mode for your group including your minds.

    December 31, 2013 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  11. RealMenEatMaleFeces

    happy new year everyone!

    December 31, 2013 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  12. carl

    Many of these individuals at MSNBC evolved from the pit of hell.

    December 31, 2013 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  13. jimmyc1955

    Isn't it delicious that the very politcally correct network seems to feel that the rules the enforce so viciously – that they themselves made up as they went – are bitting them in the butt? That maybe just everyday off the cuff comments are not taken with way too much seriousness and peoples lives ruined by accusations unfit for the real world? Isnt it fun to watch tv personality after tv personality fall victim to the very crimes they so gleefully accuse others of?

    I can only hope that maybe the PC cops of the left will learn to lighten up a bit and realize we are all human, we all make mistakes in the moment and those mistakes don't rise to the level of crime sufficient to ruin careers, familes and lives – for an inappropriate comment.

    But I doubt it – they live to enforce their self made rules on others in the name of "social justice" – and thereby creating just that much more injustice.

    December 31, 2013 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  14. ClassicalLiberal

    This just exemplifies the true character of Liberals. They're idiots and a**holes.

    December 31, 2013 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  15. Rachel

    It appears that the Democrats are the racists in America and the Republican stand up for the Blacks . Martin Luther King, a republican, President Lincoln a Republican who freed the blacks. Next election vote for those politicians who support you.

    December 31, 2013 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  16. datablade

    "Thinkergal" is the handle for someone who does not think? Bwaaa-haaa-haaaaaa!

    Oh, get a grip. The comments were not offensive in any way. I love the energy and timeliness of the MHP program. BTW, Dean O did a great job of "apologizing" for that which need no apology.

    December 31, 2013 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  17. Jack Stebbins

    MSNBC need to grow up or have their broadcast license revoked.

    December 31, 2013 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  18. Rachel

    Another brainless commentator from MSNBC who will probably be fired. Maybe they'll bring back that nut job, Keith Olbermann who was fired last year. MSNBC is the place where misfit liberals go too.

    December 31, 2013 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  19. sly

    Ho ho ho - truly amusing to read Republicans pretending they like non-whites.

    Sorry follks – I guarantee about 90% of Republicans hate all non-whites.

    December 31, 2013 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  20. Black Mormon

    1) At what point did they make fun of the child's race? I've viewed the clip a few times and did not see how they mocked the child or made fun of his race.

    2) I'm a Black person with a white Mormon family. This was hilarious to me, so I don't see the issue.

    3) So that First Amendment deal only applies to Phil Robertson, huh? He can say Blacks were better in the Jim Crow South, and that's fine, but this is an issue? Every single one of you are retarded.

    December 31, 2013 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  21. Sadie

    MSNBC thinks that apologizing makes it all better. Reminds me of high school when kids use to say horrible things to other kids and say, "just kidding" and walk away. Romney family has always had CLASS and intelligence; something most of the political people we have in our country don't even understand. The United States LOST hugely when Obama got re-elected instead of Romney/Ryan and I'm sure most of the legal citizens realize that now. From my lips to God's ears, I wish Romney would run again. It took Reagan 3 times, right????

    December 31, 2013 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  22. Scott

    Hopefully, the seven people that watch MSNBC weren't offended. They can't afford to lose any more viewers.

    December 31, 2013 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  23. carl

    Many of these individuals at MSNBC crawled out of the pit of h e l l.

    December 31, 2013 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  24. Rudy NYC


    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.
    Her show broadcasts only on the weekends. Would you prefer that they all waited a week to apologize? Can you name just on instance when a conservative said something that crossed the lines of political correctness, AND APOLOGIZED?

    December 31, 2013 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  25. JeremyH8

    Natalie, I am sure in the same place as the apologies for GWB.

    December 31, 2013 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
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