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. jeri

    Wrong,wrong,wrong, where is the cry to being fired

    December 31, 2013 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  2. j

    Typical lefty, there are exceptions, but liberal and democrats seem to be all about race. They throw stone, live in a glass house.

    December 31, 2013 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  3. Tim

    Why don't people think about what they say. Apologies don't always cut it. That is damm insulting and had no business saying that about anyone. MSNBC anchors need more training regarding comments they think are in order.

    December 31, 2013 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  4. jimmy

    Like Fox News doesn't embarrass itself every day-White Santa.....come on, really??? At least what MSNBC say's is the truth, and in the big picture of life this article is a joke at the end of the day.

    December 31, 2013 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  5. qqqqqjim

    Tokenism at its worst!!

    December 31, 2013 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  6. lgs2012

    FIRE MSNBC' s Harris-Perry NOW for her insensitive RACIAL bias....Not the first time...Nothing is black enough for her...

    December 31, 2013 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  7. WC

    MSNBC??? The only thing that offends me is that the MSNBC cast of losers are still on the air.

    December 31, 2013 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  8. Deltron N'Ganbgo

    The more liberal you are, the more racist, bigoted, and hateful you are.

    December 31, 2013 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  9. R

    Sad. No defense for this ingnorance.

    December 31, 2013 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  10. Anonymous

    Its shameful that MSNBC hosts would do something like that to a small child at Christmas. What they don't realize is that the things they say will last into forever and haunt this child throughout his lifetime, long after MSNBC becomes irrelevant. Simply shameful.

    December 31, 2013 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  11. JJB

    Jesus H Christ what is wrong with us!!!!! What a noble thing for the Romney's to do! No wonder our country is in the crapper, we need to cut the hate, get back to our respectful and courteous ways. Shame on mocking a child. What morons we've become!!! We better get back to taking care of our own, let's get back to common decency!,,,

    December 31, 2013 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  12. Creel

    Does anyone actually watch MSNBC?

    December 31, 2013 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  13. Olaf Big

    It's not left vs. right. These are harmless jokes that carry no offense to the child or its adoptive parents. Did you check the last census results for Utah, where Mitt is from? It's 92% white! And the percentage for GOP is not much off either. What's wrong with poking a little fun at it?

    December 31, 2013 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  14. treblemaker

    There used to be a TV show called "Different Strokes", and nobody made a big deal about it. Our present day society has lost something critical in normal human nature-the ability to laugh at a joke, lest someone becomes offended. That is the consequence of political correctness. (BTW, who decides what is "correct"?) In the quest to eliminate everything deemed "offensive" in speech, thought, and action, we are engaging in CENSORSHIP!!! What happened to freedom of speech? The anarchy of the anonymous digital mob is running rampant, and because of that we are losing the ability to communicate in a rational manner. IMHO, that's far worse than any foreign invasion.

    December 31, 2013 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  15. mrl

    what is it about MSNBC – you have alec baldwin bashing gays, martin bashir and ed shultz bashing women, and now this other lady and all her guests bashing bi-racial adoptions? Really bad network...

    December 31, 2013 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  16. NameJill

    Claudia, it is her not here. Start cleaning your kitchen.

    December 31, 2013 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  17. Walter

    Why is Kieran dressed in the girls uniform?

    December 31, 2013 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  18. sleeperdvr

    Fire her. She should go with the other former MSNBC hosts (Martin Bashir, Keith Olbermann) and start their Hatred Cable Channel.
    When will COMCAST, owners of NBC and MSNBC recognize their investment will go down the drain with the content/bias these stations present on a daily basis.

    December 31, 2013 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  19. Lainie11

    What a handsome bunch of grandchildren Mitt and Ann Romney have. It's every grandparent's dream. Good, wholesome children are hard to come by these days, that haven't been affected by the funky, punk like clothing kids wear today. Congratulations Mitt and Ann.

    December 31, 2013 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  20. Rob

    Curious how this would have played had this happened on Fox and the hosts poked fun at a liberal like De Blasio. I'm sure there would have been outrage and a demand that the Fox hosts be fired.

    December 31, 2013 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  21. are122

    MSNBC seems to hire many fruitcakes. If I were them I would consider firing the fruitcake that hires the fruitcakes.

    December 31, 2013 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  22. erichx101x

    When the African American child grows up, he'll realize that he was adopted only as a way to manipulate the American voters, and he'll be pretty angry about it.

    December 31, 2013 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  23. Jeff6187

    Wasn't MSN one of the fore-runners in deciding just a week ago that A&E should banish Phil Robertson for comments which were similar in offensiveness? Offensive is offensive ...whether it's Mormons or democrats or Southerners or gay or straight or black or white. We know it when we see it ... we know it when we DO it. And by the way, there is only one thing more transparently B.S. than offending a population and immediately apologizing ... it's offending a population, immediately defending your offensiveness and THEN apologizing after your handlers consult with you.

    December 31, 2013 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  24. ug

    The clowns on msnbc needs to all be fired...

    December 31, 2013 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  25. moosedog

    Yea, that was a pretty stupid thing she said. I am normally a fan of Harris-Perry, but this was just plain stupid for such an educated woman.

    December 31, 2013 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
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