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. timbroweraz

    How does MSNBC stay in business? I've watched it a couple of times. They are always tossing around childish insults about republican and such, but never cover the news. What about the people who want the news?

    December 31, 2013 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  2. skibum

    Where's Jesse Jackson? Where's the NAACP? Where's A&E? What hypocrites.

    December 31, 2013 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  3. CryBabies

    @ GregB. ....Example Please!!!!

    December 31, 2013 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  4. Brian from DC

    Look at it thisway: If Phil Robertson had said it Conservatives would be the first ones to say it was his "First Amendment" right to do so.

    December 31, 2013 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  5. CryBabies

    @ Greg B....Didn't think so!!!

    December 31, 2013 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  6. A-Rod

    internet news is no longer objective....we have hit the 'media is the massage' age....where do we go for non-corporate backed news?

    December 31, 2013 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  7. woodlander2

    The only reason that this picture was discussed on MSNBC and with this panel of liberal attack dogs was to criticize and demean the Romney family. This is not a host or individual problem, this is a network problem with the cutter policies and practices of MSNBC.

    December 31, 2013 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  8. avj

    The baby is in pink. All the girls are in pink and boys in blue.

    December 31, 2013 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  9. CG

    Not much of a UU if she would say those sorts of things.

    December 31, 2013 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  10. Mike B

    Really, this is your lead story all day on your website? It's just your attempt to stick a thumb in the eye of your rival.

    December 31, 2013 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  11. WritingOnTheWall

    The news analyst referring to Michelle Obama as "The Queen" was much more offensive.

    December 31, 2013 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  12. elizabeth M Carson

    Some "joke"- a tiny baby-really? Bitterness is unattractive on everyone. Rein-in the impulsiveness to say anything without seeing the results through. Free speech? Take down all the "traffic lights" and see how well we do as a society.
    God bless all children including the adults that were once innocent children themselves but are now "high" on themselves.

    December 31, 2013 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  13. rob522

    Can't help but thinking that this child, growing up in a lily white family will be race conflicted his whole life.

    December 31, 2013 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  14. The Facts

    During this Christmas season let us think of the 4,000 children sent to their deaths by OBAMA's drones.

    Look at that picture and think of the children killed under OBAMA. Blown to bits by his Drones.

    4,000 children OBAMA denied life... a childhood, the love of their parents, to laugh, giggle, grow and explore.

    OBAMA's 4,000 and counting.

    Hey Hey OBAMA... How many babies did You KILL Today??

    December 31, 2013 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  15. Lee

    Non story....

    December 31, 2013 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  16. WeighingIn

    "And early Tuesday Sarah Palin weighed in."

    December 31, 2013 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  17. NFLD

    Hey, I didn't hear the Romney's speak up once when all the racist comments were being spewed by their friends at Fox News.
    Even when they were taking pot shots at the Presidents children all were silent.
    Practice what you preach.
    Sure, didn't all the Republicans line up with Phil Robertson after his comments?

    December 31, 2013 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  18. synicone

    Melissa Harris-Perry is a big mouth running out of control, I can't stand her show. she should be fired on the spot.

    December 31, 2013 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  19. tbone

    Romney is pandering.

    Everyone knows his angle for adopting.

    He once said he was Mexian too.

    December 31, 2013 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  20. Juan

    MSNBC: Leaches of our society

    December 31, 2013 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  21. Vineyard Mike

    About as ignorant of a comment as one could make! Ms Harris-Perry should be ashamed of herself & MSNBC should be doubly ashamed since they continue to condone such comments & behavior! Delete MSNBC from your channel guide!

    December 31, 2013 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  22. James Asher

    The Blind Side part 2?

    December 31, 2013 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  23. Joseph

    come down racist, the waco liberal may sound accept everyone as is, diversities, but their true core is, they are smart, elite, they knew everything, and sadly truth is, they are also the most racists bunch... just remember, Racial segregation was product of Democratic Party until 1970s, Republic Party was the party promoting civic rights and fought for free balack salary...

    December 31, 2013 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  24. IA

    @ Anonymous...Nice...and very tasteless!!

    December 31, 2013 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  25. Miguel

    Why did they show Romney Family picture – of course it was to mock them? Here is a man with his grand kids – the picture of love and happiness.

    MSNBC has some absolutely horrible people.

    December 31, 2013 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
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