December 30th, 2013
05:27 PM ET
8 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. RCS

    You know, it's one thing to jab at Mitt Romney for political reasons. But taking a stab at his family, especially when it comes to a child, is pretty low. Then making racial jokes on top of it? Bad bad bad. These panelists should not be on TV.

    December 31, 2013 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  2. Mark

    WOW! Another host and show at MSNBC having to apologize? Whats in the water over there and why can they not be civil? This type of behavior is ridiculous and it points to those who hired them and monitor them as unfit for their jobs.

    December 31, 2013 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  3. MJ

    Progressives only pretend to care about minorities. To them, they're just an endless supply of votes to be paid attention to once every election cycles. Minorities really need to rethink their voting choices next election.

    December 31, 2013 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  4. abe

    Aren't we all supposed to be color-blinded? OR is that the one-way street that MSNBC likes to drive frequently?

    December 31, 2013 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  5. ChrisM

    Look at all the Sheep. Baaaaaaaa Baaaaaaaaa!! Duck Dynasty's Phil Robertson Suggests Men Marry 15-Year-Old Girls in Newly Surfaced Video. Where is your outrage you rwnjs

    December 31, 2013 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  6. Justin

    If you find it offensive, turn the channel. The jokes weren't that bad. Conservatives are just making a stink becuase being upset about something and vocalizing it in the media is all the rage these days and gets them noticed. I wish they hadn't apologized for anything. If you make a statement or joke, own it. Don't cower away at the first sign that you offended someone. The responses from conservatives is no shocker considering what great senses of humor most of them have. Who cares what Sarah Palin has to say about it also? They always ask her response when the conservatives are outraged that someone said something contrary to their values. She has the IQ of a turnip.

    December 31, 2013 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  7. drc

    Well, it is the 'left', we know they always get a pass on just about everything in life. OH POOR ME, Life is not fair. Where is that ra-ce card. Typical hypocrisy from the loons on the left and I'm not saying there are not loons on the right but the left is supposed to be so PC and wonderful.

    December 31, 2013 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  8. Sheepleherder

    You mean the leftists on MSNBC can be just as racist as the ones they claim only reside at Fox? Who knew.

    December 31, 2013 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  9. Big_D

    4%?!? Clearly this photo doesn't represent the GOP they only have 2% minority participation.

    December 31, 2013 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  10. MSNBC just one big joke

    I was once a fan of MSNBC but in the last 7 years they have lost control. I still will not forgive them for the way they raked the Clintons over the coals during the primary, but now they are back in love with them. Even Laurence O'Donnell does nothing but make fun of people. MSNBC is a disgrace.

    December 31, 2013 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  11. paula

    I actually cannot stand Romney or his wife but I am upset with what MSN did. I don't care what family adopted a black child I commend them and I think it is absolutely wonderful. Any family who can adopt no matter what the skin color is are wonderful people and deserve respect. They tried to fire Phil for his beliefs, this comment that was made about the little boy had nothing to do with beliefs, it was rude and way out of line, so why don't they fire the Anchor, I think she should be thrown out on her ass along with her co-anchors who were sitting around making fun of a little boy while earning 6 figures!!! Fire them!!!!!!

    December 31, 2013 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  12. realist58

    No surprise. Everyone from MSNBC came from the same mold. The STUPID one.

    December 31, 2013 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  13. skinsfan66

    Can you imagine the outrage of the left if this had been a conservative commenting on a liberal family. They would be beside themselves with outrage and demand all envolved be fired. Oh but since it a liberal commenting on a conservative – never mind, that's ok.

    December 31, 2013 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  14. Big_D

    Strange the Romney family photo is more racially diverse than the GOP overall.

    December 31, 2013 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  15. Mary

    Will we ever get to a point where there will be racial 'blindness" in this world? Who the hell cares if someone is black or white or whatever. It's a non-issue. Quit noticing! All in that photo are beautiful. Every one of those "comedians" need to lose their jobs.

    December 31, 2013 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  16. Jake

    What, the right wingers aren't quick to defend the commentators' freedom of speech? Can't have it both ways folks...

    December 31, 2013 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  17. Ted Ward

    What a beautiful photo of the Romney family! What's not to like about that? The PC sickness of the puritanical, snarky, know-it-all, clueless and highly intolerant MSNBC types just goes to show how completely upside down and out of touch with reality the PC liberal machine that is destroying our society has become. They just can't deal with a really nice wholesome photo without being mean and negative like some brats in a nasty high school clique.

    December 31, 2013 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  18. Roy James

    Why are supposedly intelligent people so dumb. I have never in my 75 years seen so many educated people not know what to say out of their mouths.

    December 31, 2013 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  19. Malory Archer

    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.


    Alec Baldwin and Martin Bashir are no longer empolyed by MSNBC. At least Ed Schults apologized for his remarks. Meanwhile, none of the poor little victims at faux newz and on a.m. radio have been held accountable for their daily tirades. So no, this isn't a "pot meet kettle" situation. Your post, however is poor attempt at false equivalence.

    December 31, 2013 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  20. Vin

    I thought it was hilarious....I really don't know what the big deal is.....people need to lighten up....the biggest problem with this counrty is everyone's so worried about being "politically correct"

    December 31, 2013 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  21. Moi

    People really need to lighten up. No pun intended.

    December 31, 2013 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  22. Marie

    Absolutely ADORABLE baby! Congratulations to the Romney family!

    December 31, 2013 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  23. Greg B.

    Her comments are nowhere near as offensive or as damaging as the vile racism that Mitt Romney and his supporters intentionally stirred up and exploited during the 2012 campaign.

    December 31, 2013 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  24. rltmd317

    Well we certainly know who some racist are. Where is Jesse and Al screaming racism. Oh yea it was democrats making racial comments about republicans. Had this been reversed there would be news cameras camped out and protest on the street. Where is Obama comments about how bad this is. Never mind he is more worried about the long time name of a franchise maybe being racist, which no one really believes, versus actual racial comments on the air. What a bunch of hypocrites.

    December 31, 2013 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  25. Name

    I support MHP she did nothing wrong. She nor her panel was mocking the baby or the adoption. They were mocking the stupidity and ignorance of the Romney family as a whole to try and use a black child as a come back and likeable source to get positive recognition. And the Romney's should be ashamed of themselves. Screw them........their tactics failed in this matter

    December 31, 2013 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
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