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. hkirwin


    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.
    ============================= explanation from the left. Go fiqure.

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

    I was less offended by the inter-racial adoption comments by the black commentators than the GOP comments. We're used to black people degrading or calling other black people the N word etc. But liberals, black community leaders, unions and snake-oil salesman politicians have done more to degrade the position of all non-white people than any white or conservative leaning person would even want to do or think of doing. They keep feeding all non-white people a lie that conservatives and the GOP are somehow out to get them and that once the world is rid of their kind all non-white people will b better off. Hopefully one day the community as a whole will wake up to the con-artists' song and dance before it's too late and their communities are sold down the river yet again. But I can promise you it won't be the big bad white people as promised it will be an internal rot and decay economically and socially..

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

    Hey Mit that one pn your lap sure looks like you!

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

    This is your top story?

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

    Man, I didn't even notice that one of the kids was black. I was too blinded by the matching outfits! This is going to end up on "awkward family pictures" for sure...

    December 31, 2013 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  6. midnightsunshineak

    Is the baby a grandson or granddaughter. All the guys in the photo are wearing blue, the girls pink. The baby is dressed in pink.

    December 31, 2013 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  7. Alyssa

    The same group that claims Jesus and Santa are 'white' is now decrying a comment that seems 'racist' to them? Ahhhhhh the hypocrisy of it all! Cracks me up!

    December 31, 2013 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  8. Rebecca

    Has anyone ever heard the phrase "if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all"? I thank God that they are giving a home and hope to a child in need. I applaud them!!!

    December 31, 2013 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  9. Jon Audette

    Good thing the only ones that really pay attention to that network are those unfortunate enough to be employed by it.

    December 31, 2013 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  10. i12bphil

    Could it possibly be that the world is waking up to the fact that no one on the left exemplifies ANY of the virtues they claim to champion? I know loads of conservatives who are never racist, do not hold intolerant views of others, help the poor, give to charity, give of themselves to the community through volunteering, yet I can't seem to find one liberal who practices what they claim to represent. They are usually bigoted, narrow minded, intolerant and hypocritical, but don't believe they are because they've been indoctrinated by people who tell them that if they share ideology with them they are the champions of equality, tolerance, love and liberty. It isn't true by any measure. They're just people who believe their own argument ad nausium, that if you repeat a lie over and over, it eventually becomes truth.

    Keep it up MSNBC. The world needs to see the REAL truth.

    December 31, 2013 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  11. c paul

    Well I guess that is another lame attempt for Mitt the robber baron to run for president. That is about as low as I have ever seen Republicans stoop. What's next a hispanic baby????

    December 31, 2013 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  12. Name


    December 31, 2013 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  13. grafixer

    I didn't find Harris-Perry's comments unkind or racist at all. Not sure why the right is choosing to make a big deal about this.

    December 31, 2013 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  14. leopold

    Inappropriate. Period!

    And for the rest of you buffoons stop defending your ideology.

    December 31, 2013 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  15. hkirwin


    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.

    The left will say it enough that they start to believe it. No excuse for bad behavior.

    December 31, 2013 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  16. Angel

    What strikes me about the photo is why is the adopted grandSON dressed in the colors all the girls are wearing? That is what really stands out to me. The rest of it is much ado about nothing. If that Duck Dynasty guy can say the ugly things he said and be a hero, the right wingers can take a seat about this.

    December 31, 2013 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  17. charles diggs

    She apologized for her statements. Still waiting for Duck Robertson's apology and will be waiting forever/

    December 31, 2013 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  18. Rudy NYC

    Jan wrote on page 80:

    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?
    from the first paragraph of the article.....

    "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."

    It says weekend program. Harris' show only broadcasts on the weekends. She may have been guest hosting for someone during this holiday season, or even guest appearing on a show, but her show only broadcasts on the weekends.

    If you actually think that I was saying that no one should apologize, then I don't know what to say that you could understand.

    December 31, 2013 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  19. Olivia

    Why were these people not fired....loook at what they did to Paula Dean years ago...why should these people get away with this just because they are part oc the media.

    December 31, 2013 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  20. hkirwin

    Malory Archer

    Perry should be fired.


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

    I agree let them keep making a fool out of themselves and turn more Independents to the right.

    December 31, 2013 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  21. ken mertz

    Wonder if she'd be masking fun of the baby and family if it was Ellen or Rosie and their loved ones.

    December 31, 2013 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  22. dste0713

    Melissa-Perry is embarrassment to the African American race. I am an African American, and I am ashamed to watch either Melissa Harris Perry's or Al Sharpton's shows. Instead of being role models for young African American's they are encouraging them to be bigots. They always trying to make Black folks look like the victims. It folks like Obama, Sharpton, Jessie Jackson and Melissa Harris Perry that are holding back race relations in this country. Sure there is racism, but it exists on both sides. Melissa Harry-Perry is one of the biggest racists I have every seen.

    December 31, 2013 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  23. Quiana

    I'm tired of the hypocrisy, both parties make mistakes and say stupid things. It's called freedom of speech. The network apologized, move on. In all honestly, the truth hurts. I’m more concerned that of the racism in abortion where a white person could easily adopt a black child, but not the other way around.

    December 31, 2013 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  24. Carrie

    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.

    Yeah, like the Democrats do not hide their money either off-shore you are dreaming if you think they do not.

    December 31, 2013 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  25. CrazyDog

    I hope MSNBC will be out of business rather soon.

    December 31, 2013 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
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