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. Rob

    The race baiting network strikes again. It's all they've got.

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

    Tokenism at its worst. I wonder how much Mitt forked over for that affair. What? Her's going to run for president again? Glad Mitt, who tortured his dog on the roof of his car, dodged the draft, lied to the American people, flipped and stripped companies and fired workers, is now seen as a family-values shill. This guy is a total fabrication. If it hadn't bee for daddy's money, this faker would have ended up as a junior broker at some bucket shop pitching cats ad dogs too odls ladies.

    December 31, 2013 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  3. Cheryl

    Watch it, MSNBC. You're better than Fox, so prove it.

    December 31, 2013 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  4. 2013

    MSM is trying really hard to make the Romney family relevant.

    December 31, 2013 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  5. Cindy

    I'm tired of watching public figures (media, celebrities, politicians) say STUPID, INSENSITIVE, AND HURTFUL things, and then thinking that they can wash it away with a less than contrite "I'm sorry" or "I apologize". Think before you open your mouths! You don't get a pass for not thinking!

    December 31, 2013 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  6. jerry

    Interesting, the post bringing Sarah Palin into this. And, Robertson's comments like Romney's 46% could have been THE TRUTH after any sense neither of these comments were motivated by racism. Could be msnbc's rating are in the basement for good reason, who wants to listen to this ugly business.

    December 31, 2013 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  7. Warrior

    People please. Nothing derogatory was said about this family nor child. Where was Scott Brown when Republicans called the President of the US racist names, a liar, amongst others? Like Dean Obeidallah stated, this is diversity in the Republican party.

    December 31, 2013 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  8. 2L

    This was the dumbest stunt by MSNBC EVER – whover thought of this should be fired, and the commentators reprimanded. This is 2013, almost 2014 – why is this still treated as a novelty??

    December 31, 2013 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  9. Uthor

    What were they thinking? I didn't particularly admire Romney as a candidate, but the panelists comments were inexplicable and way out of line.

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

    MHP was raised by a White Mormon family.....and has a fat paycheck and a career. President Obama...raised by a single White mother...PRESIDENT. Hmmm

    December 31, 2013 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  11. Chris

    Done with msnbc.

    December 31, 2013 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  12. rs

    You are fired !
    Unless you are Phil Robertson or Sarah Palin, or Rush Limbaugh, or some other turkey from the Right.

    December 31, 2013 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  13. CaptainObvious

    No offense, but I found the commentary at MSNBC VERY disturbing. It is even more offensive if you actually watch it. One of the commentators, a black woman, starts SINGING, "One of these things is not like the other."

    I personally am offended beyond words. What exactly is wrong with a family adopting and providing a loving home to a child? It is just sick no matter how you look at it. A public apology does not come close to remedying this. This speaks of a much deeper and dangerous mindset. I am not affiliated with any political movement, but this is just very disturbing and very, very wrong.

    December 31, 2013 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  14. Ken

    As they say, "Some people only use their head to put their hat on.".

    December 31, 2013 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  15. Rudy NYC

    Claudia, Houston, Tx wrote:

    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.
    Sarah Palin needs to apologize for her outrageous remarks that sparked Martin Bashir's equally outrageous tirade against her. What makes Palin's remarks so bad is that she knew that her comments would be deemed offensive by many, but not any in her immediate audience that day. And so, she apologized BEFORE she said what she said. You know, when you have to apologize for something before you say it, that should be a red flag that you really shouldn't say it.

    December 31, 2013 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  16. Ulysses-AZ

    Ahhh... MSNBC... The "Jerry Springer" style network of cable news... However, I'm getting a little bit tired of all these disparate political groups pushing and shoving to get the headlines as the most victimized and offended group. Grow some collective stones and laugh off the comments made by the trailer park-erazzi, who are ONLY trying to generate media buzz in a vain attempt to distinguish their pathetic, low-brow shows from the sleazy mediocrity of what passes as today's info-media.

    December 31, 2013 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  17. Quiet Profi

    what is scary is what that poor child will more than likely suffer in a cult family.

    The mormon cult does not even consider that child human, and in a cult that was founded to justify pedophilia under the 1st amendment you know that poor black child will not do well.

    maybe it will die young and not have to suffer long.

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

    Where are the Al Sharpton and I can't remember the name of the other guy who has a political son that is corrupt? Should these so men be shouting foul and protect this black child from these lousy MSNBC people? Oh, its their people – liberal people. All I know is from the smile of this black child she/he is loved. Just look at the smile!

    December 31, 2013 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  19. Hussein Obama

    Why do liberals think welfare helps the poor when they usually end up buying pop and potato chips with it?

    December 31, 2013 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  20. notorious_bob

    We can all agree that politicians are little trolls getting paid to do next to nothing and warrant our disdain but race aside, lets leave the little kids alone. I am a staunch opponent of Obama. you have never and will likely never hear me associate sasha or malia in my commentary about him as a politician. they aren't the person doing the job. theyre the unfortunate children of a public figure. same with this, they are creating a distraction to continue to divide the nation either by class or race to make us all fight with each other so they can continue to support things like the NDAA that whittle what is left of our rights away.

    December 31, 2013 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  21. Anne

    Mitt should do himself a favor and go back to the Democrats. Race isn't an issue with them. He STILL couldn't get elected(if he tried again lol.) But at least they'd be more accommodating..

    December 31, 2013 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  22. Dan

    As an Obama voter, it saddens me these pundits had neither the simplicity of heart to offer congratulations nor depth of character to chastise colleagues. The pundits on both sides of the spectrum are the reason for polarization in our government...we all must expect better from them.

    December 31, 2013 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  23. Jan

    Check your facts. She is on weeknights as well. These comments were made Monday evening. It was a panel discussion on the Christmas card.
    And even if you were correct and conservatives do not apologize......does this now mean no one should?

    December 31, 2013 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  24. Shocking.......

    We all know that democrats are closet racists. They believe it is allowed for them to mock republicans on the issues of race, but see no problem when they do it themselves. I fail to understand how a political party, which prides itself on racial diversity could make such a comment. Keep in mind, this is MSNBC, not FOX news.

    I think we all know now when they show a Democratic convention, what they truly think of minorities....

    December 31, 2013 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  25. adopted kids

    a lot of people have babies from all over the world. seems like some people that adopt do it to show they aren't prejudiced or to get attention that way. others just don't have the race thing, but the people that do make a big deal out of it.

    December 31, 2013 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
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