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. Cookie girl

    Simply disgusting. Comments and sentiments such as these uttered on MSNBC Illustrate the blatant hypocrisy of those who proclaim themselves to be liberal. These people are the Voices of Hate and MSNBC is their willing platform.

    December 30, 2013 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  2. Big Ben

    During the campaign, Mrs. Romney kept referring to "those people." Makes you wonder if she refers to this grandchild as "that grandchild." That was their true feelings.

    December 30, 2013 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
  3. Zanarkand

    I don't first I thought this is something a news panel shouldn't do but then reading further it says the "offensive" jokes were made by comedians. I don't see the big deal in the comments anymore. It wasn't like Rachel Maddow or Larry King made the comments. This no different than Chris Rock, Jay Leno, Kevin Hart, or even Louis CK making those comments.

    December 30, 2013 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  4. mits

    Mitt Romney is old news and an another loser, who cares

    December 30, 2013 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  5. McLovin

    The only reason they apologized was to save their jobs. As adults, I have to believe they knew how insensitive the remarks and songs were before they performed them

    December 30, 2013 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  6. ora pike

    this IS the most racist there is-and an adopted child. and you guys in the media especially nbc willnot say a word against this racist group. sick sick sick

    December 30, 2013 09:57 pm at 9:57 pm |
  7. mitch

    I find it funny when people are shocked that liberals turn out to be just as bigoted and racist conservatives.

    December 30, 2013 09:57 pm at 9:57 pm |

    Where is Al and Jesse!?

    December 30, 2013 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  9. GC Light

    I was a watcher of MSNBC. I can't believe they are turning into Fox. Good bye MSNBC. Your panel should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves.

    December 30, 2013 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  10. Paul

    A couple comments were a bit over the edge but everyone recognized it and apologized. Nothing here, folks, move on.

    December 30, 2013 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  11. Anonymous

    Thought I liked Marc Lamont Hill. Will libs defend each other for anything? I am stunned that he does not think MSNBC was not making fun of the Romney's having a black grand-child. Outrageous.

    December 30, 2013 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  12. jim

    MSNBC continues to beclown itself. But it gets fewer viewers than a public access cable TV channel, so they need to throw Idiot Grenades whenever they can.

    December 30, 2013 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
  13. get real

    Keep it moving folks, there's nothing to see here. NO apology needed.

    December 30, 2013 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  14. Gary H

    Romney is still LOSER.

    December 30, 2013 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  15. Smitty

    Wheres rudy and timmy ??? If Obammy had a son ??? How can NBC reg news put up with this crap?? it makes them look like idiots also

    December 30, 2013 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  16. Mike from Illinois

    Remember that the show was scripted, so they planned this act and it was reviewed by producers. "A-OK" was the verdict ... and then splat. It's unbelievable how disconnected from real people and how self-unaware some of these supposedly intelligent talking heads are. Not to mention completely disingenuous. It's all bullcrap all the time on most of these shows now.

    December 30, 2013 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  17. ThinkAgain

    @carolbannon: "MSNBC has become the Station of Hate... bigotry cloaked in liberal sarcasm. That child is loved, cared for, and WANTED by the family."

    A couple classless, tacky people on MSNBC make stupid comments and suddenly it's the "Station of Hate" (said with lots of reverb, no doubt).

    And while I hope it's true, one photo does not mean the kid is loved, cared for and wanted by the family.

    December 30, 2013 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  18. Anne Johnston

    The liberals are never satisfied, MSNBC is the most hateful group of people out there....
    They are just wonder their ratings are in the tank"....idiots

    December 30, 2013 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  19. Olaf Big

    The jokes are fine. Nobody is offending the child, or insulting the adoptive parents. I really like the one about the children lineup looking like a republican party. And yes, Utah is very, very white, and there is nothing wrong with poking a little fun at it.

    December 30, 2013 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  20. ED1

    The one person who is sincere (Mitt) what a bunch of racist Democrats he isn't running for anything but the hate of the liberals are still there why isn't anyone asking for her job and get out and work like real people.

    December 30, 2013 10:24 pm at 10:24 pm |
  21. Matt Simpson

    When I see the left displaying their ignorance and hypocrisy the phrase "Let them eat cake" comes to my mind. I think one day it will end up like the French Revolution. The people will rise up and throw all the liberal elitists out. Drag them into the street...

    December 30, 2013 10:24 pm at 10:24 pm |
  22. G. T. Simpson

    MSNBC has a well deserved reputation for racism, bigotry and bias – especially if it benefits their far left progressive liberal ideology. All you have to do is look at the classless caliber of trash anchors they employ – Schulz, Maddow, O'Donnell, Matthews and other low class slime! I only watch MSNBC to see what the enemies of America are thinking.

    December 30, 2013 10:31 pm at 10:31 pm |
  23. Barack Obama

    why has our party of tolerance become the most intolerant party on the face of the earth?

    December 30, 2013 10:31 pm at 10:31 pm |
  24. G. T. Simpson

    CNN is no better than MSNBC!

    December 30, 2013 10:32 pm at 10:32 pm |
  25. Shefter Laurent

    Their motives were not racism

    December 30, 2013 10:34 pm at 10:34 pm |
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