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. Malory Archer

    Perry should be fired.


    Right after everyone at faux newz and on a.m. radio is fired!

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

    MSNBC – An embarrassing example of journalism and entertainment. Smh

    December 31, 2013 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  3. Dave

    Give it a rest folks. If we can forgive and protect the rights of the Master Duck, then we must protect the right to say stupid stuff for others as well, after all this is America, land of the free, and we do have the right to make ourselves look like fools by what we say.

    December 31, 2013 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  4. chrisdavi

    Didn't they fire Imus when he did this?

    December 31, 2013 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  5. Maty

    Is 'thick skin' being worn down by man-made climate change?

    December 31, 2013 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  6. Greg

    So not news worthy...

    December 31, 2013 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  7. Bob from Accounting

    Normally I would go out and say everybody needs to chill and not be so PC, but since MSNBC is usually the perpetrators and benefactors of such outrage there is nothing to do but let the schadenfreude rain down from above.

    December 31, 2013 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  8. rs

    ROMNEY: father was president of American Motors and three term governor of Michigan and worked with MLK, mother ran for senate, he was unpaid missionary for two years in France (long, hard, discouraging work days), valedictorian, Harvard MBA (top 5%), Harvard JD (with honors), unpaid Mormon bishop (to the 99%) unpaid Mormon stake president (to the 99.9%), gave away inheritance, Staples (89,000 jobs), Sports Authority (15,000 jobs), Domino's Pizza (7,900 jobs), quarter-billionaire, wealth placed in blind trust (no one owns him), saved Olympics, Massachusetts Governor where half of his staff were women with equal pay (four years of balanced budget and surplus), five very successful sons (three with MBAs from Harvard, one in medical residency), 18 grandchildren (cares about US future, not his own power), long happy marriage, turnaround artist for the nation.
    Yeah, and he hides his money off-shore accounts, thinks the less fortunate in America are worthy of his disdain (even though his 47% include the poor, the elderly and our veterans) and pays a whole 3% income tax rate. He's a good "vulture capitalist" Republican, but no saint I am afraid.

    December 31, 2013 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  9. John

    What's funny about this is that conservatives rarely apologize or get called to the carpet for their comments. CNN and conservatives didn't criticize Robertson for his "beliefs" they whined about his suspension, played the Christian victim card and opined ad nauseam about aspects of the story that weren't really relevant. Liberals, MSNBC, etc. consistently apologize, are punished and frequently shunned by other liberals. When was te last time someone lost their job for saying something stupid on the conservative side? Beck? will Dana Loesch apologize for reporting they were mocking a black child? is she high?
    Is this really a headline story? is this really no laughing matter? conservatives are funny....they over simplify things so much that the details get lost and then they fume over the inaccurate oversimplification. might be a happier segment of the population if they actually paid attention to those details and actually got upset about things they should actually be upset about.

    December 31, 2013 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  10. joe

    Democratic party.....the "tolerant party" yeah right. she should be fired. imagine if glen beck had similar things to say about a family of democrats. he would be hung from the nearest tree. liberals are the biggest hypocrites its not even funny. pathetic.

    December 31, 2013 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  11. phale

    Do any of you people listen to yourselves? Mitt Romney did not adopt this child his son and daughter in law decided to adopt this child! Regardless of what color the child is at least someone had the common decency to do this great thing. All of you ignorant people are arguing and making Racist and Political Rhetoric out of something good. You should be ashamed and embarrassed that something that was a bad situation turned into a good situation for a CHIILD!!!! That is what this is about a CHILD!!!! What is wrong with society is exactly what is being exhibited in this comment section.

    December 31, 2013 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  12. Jeff

    Liberals are just the most horrible doubt about it. If this country is to survive, it's up to conservatives.

    December 31, 2013 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  13. Ed

    Melissa Harris-Perry is a racist piece of garbage...she is no better than those KKK dirtballs out there. The amount of hate that is spewed over at MSNBC is stunning. It is no longer a real news channel.

    December 31, 2013 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  14. Frank

    @Ummm... Rita, Karen, and Big_D
    Freedom of speech does not mean freedom from reaction to poor taste nor does it mean freedom from bovine feces.

    December 31, 2013 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  15. sanity


    They should take away their show, just like they did Rush when he said the "nappy headed ho" thing. Oh, they didn't do jack? Nevermind.

    Limbaugh did not say it; Imus did. He was suspended.

    December 31, 2013 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  16. Buster

    I would attend a LDS church as a child with one of my friends. They kids who went there would regularly put the black kid in the garbage dumpster outside for fun. They also flushed the Mexican kids head in the toilet on one occasion... It was probably the most racist environment I have ever been in, of course this was in conservative Orange County, so it makes sense.

    December 31, 2013 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  17. QuiniK

    How about the media leaving public figures children alone period. When one adopts a child...that child becomes just that...your child! We as adoptive parents do NOT differenciate between the natural and the adopted and I wish those in the media would stop too. So the child may look different! WHO CARES! They should be celebrated not ridiculed.Shut your faces and report on real issues of the day. No apology needed fire her and hire real reporters.

    December 31, 2013 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  18. Bill Schretter

    Although you may not agree with their political opinions , we should always express appreciation and respect for those citizens who choose to serve our nation, in any capacity, including in political office. We should never make fun of their famility or personal situations. Treat each other with the civility, empathy, and the respect that we are naturally due. I prefer to listen to TV hosts who add value to our national dialogue, not inappropriate jokes and commentary. If we are not civil to each other, we will not have a civil society. Happy New Year

    December 31, 2013 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  19. Paul

    publicity stunt...nothing more/nothing less.

    December 31, 2013 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  20. rs

    the left is so jealous of Romney. He could have fixed the healthcare system. I promise you he would have actually worked nonstop as he has always done. We have a fly by night lying dictator who is good for only campaigning and golf.
    No one is "jealous" of Romney. Sure he has tons of cash (safely off-shore so he doesn't pay taxes on it), but really, so narcissistic. On the health care front, you did notice that the ACA was patterned after Romneycare, and it includes the GOP's and the Heritage Foundation's "Individual Mandate", right?
    Meanwhile, the GOP's health care plan? Zip, right?

    December 31, 2013 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  21. Frank

    Lmao..... Gotta admit that what they said was hilarious.

    December 31, 2013 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  22. Jennifer NY

    The lies about Mitt Romney are appalling....the political ugliness has taken on a life of its people believe those lies. He is a thoroughly decent man Nd would have been an excellent president, instead of what we about lies!

    December 31, 2013 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  23. jim

    typical MSNBC for you.

    December 31, 2013 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  24. Mike

    Did the angry people on this forum even watch the clip? If this makes you outraged, then you need to wear noise cancelling headphones for the rest of your life.

    December 31, 2013 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  25. revolting peasant

    Alas, the jokes were funny, even funnier that they were made by the politically over-correct folks at MSNBC. This kid might as well get used to it. The jokes will be coming for a long time. Meanwhile, it probably is not so bad being adopted by the Romneys.

    December 31, 2013 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
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