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. Ben harry

    Why is it that Obams children are off limits ...

    The press even used to make fun of how ugly Chelsea Clinton was... Remember?

    December 31, 2013 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  2. Julia70

    How about Rom head's racist remarks and religion

    December 31, 2013 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  3. Miriam

    why aren't they making fun out of Obama?????? Look at his skin color.

    ALL of them should be fired for making these hideous jokes. Shame,
    Besides what do they think of Brad Pitt and Jolie and Sandra Bullock for adopting an African American child?????

    December 31, 2013 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  4. bill

    How about us not continually granting the media unwarrented power by just ignoring what the say on both sides entirely? I'm still not certain why we hold the opinions of the talking heads in such high regard, and why we pay so much attention to what they say. I don't need my views validated by a commentator apologizing. If that's what you need to get by in life, it's time to get some brain cells.
    Doesn't anyone just miss the days of news reporting? Gone are those days. We basically only have 24 hour editorial channels at this point.

    December 31, 2013 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  5. Malory Archer

    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...


    Yeah, except Alec Baldwin and Martin Bashir are no longer employed by MSNBC. At least Ed Schultz apologized for his remarks. Meanwhile, none of the poor little victims at faux newz and on a.m. radio have EVER been held accountable for their daily tirades. So no, this isn't a "pot meet kettle" situation. Your post however is chock full of false equivalence.

    That being said, I'm wondering which rightwing whiner is using the talking point referenced above my mrl. I've seen numerous variations of those words throughout this thread. And then they accuse the "left" of being "hive-minded". LOL – projection at its finest!

    December 31, 2013 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  6. Sue

    It just goes to show that ignorance and bad manners know no political bounds. A symptom of our glib culture- how far will people go for z joke. Very sad. Beautiful baby and clearly a loving family!

    December 31, 2013 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  7. Bribarian

    Why do people adopt blafricans?

    December 31, 2013 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  8. Michael

    Please don't make fun if somebody's doing greatest job in the world.
    I think Mr. Romney is the Great Man in the world.

    December 31, 2013 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  9. Robert

    What's MSNBC? Is that like the Tomato Network channel or on late night TV?

    December 31, 2013 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  10. leen321

    I used to think most of the anchors and reporters on MSNBC were just very passive-aggressive in their reporting/discussions with their panels, but with the recent firings and apologies from their hosts, I would say MSNBC should just be known as aggressive... they know exactly what they are saying and are willing to take the heat.
    Embarrassing for the network, to say the least.

    December 31, 2013 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  11. Niko the Farmer

    Why should Mitt Romney (or anyone else) care about what some talentless, classless hack on TV says or thinks about anything? The only issue here is why there are talentless, classless hacks on TV in the first place. We now live in a society where empty shells have been given prominence under the guise of promoting diversity (or because they have dirt on someone, slept with someone, or are otherwise connected). If they had to rely on their merit, we would never have heard of them. These people really are less than a weed in Romney's flower garden.

    December 31, 2013 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  12. Michael

    Not NEWS worthy.

    December 31, 2013 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  13. Bob123

    NEVER apologize to right wingers, they NEVER apologize, and they deserve NONE.

    December 31, 2013 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  14. me

    Shocker ! MSNBC is spewing hatred .

    December 31, 2013 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  15. Tim

    That's great and the host should apologize. So... now that Romney has his apology can we expect Romney to apologize to the 47% of the country he insulted during the campaign?

    December 31, 2013 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  16. JimP

    I am incensed; when they could afford any color that they want.....

    December 31, 2013 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  17. really

    Let's identify the real racists among us.

    December 31, 2013 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  18. The Connservative

    Let's see. Martin Bashir,Al Sharpton,Ed Shultz, and now this one. Keep it up More Selfish Narcisists Before Christ. Your certainly doing your part for the mid terms.

    December 31, 2013 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  19. Arrimine Venyalla

    The only commentary should've been "Look, I don't agree with his politics but you can't fault a guy for loving his family. Happy New Year to all of them." But that would've ruined the joke, I suppose.

    December 31, 2013 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  20. Four Two

    Gee.....the media saying something stupid.....there's a shocker.

    December 31, 2013 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  21. Dean

    Liberals and Democrats are the biggest racist in America.

    December 31, 2013 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  22. Just

    Only sorry she was forced to publicly apologize. Her comments were sincere when tendered.

    December 31, 2013 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  23. Mark

    I don't think it was so much racist as it was just really a stupid comment. I mock Mitt Romney. But why would you make fun of someone who adopted a child? Would they have made the same comment if the child had Downe's Syndrome? They SHOULD apologize. And then let's move on.

    December 31, 2013 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  24. renaissancemon

    "I apologize to the Romney family and especially the baby if any of them were offended by that joke."

    Sorry to hurt the BABY's feelings? Come on, that's not sincere. As a baby the girl has no comprehension of this incident.

    December 31, 2013 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  25. Greg

    Disgustingly racist! But she can't be a racist because she's black.

    December 31, 2013 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
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