December 30th, 2013
05:27 PM ET
7 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 CNN.com.)

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. wasse

    The kid has no say wheither he/she wants to be raised into an all white Morman family, its not right. Just be cause they have the money to buy the kid doesnt make it right.

    December 31, 2013 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  2. Gloria Brown MSW

    I am a bi-racial adopted child before being bi-racial was "cool"...I was raised by a wonderful African American Father and Mother. This shows poor taste by MHP and she should be fired like the lady who tweeted I'm going to Africa. Hope I don't get AIDS...
    This paints a different picture of shows that Romney's...hat's off to them for caring. May 2014 be a better year.

    December 31, 2013 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  3. Greg

    A network host to a backwoods bearded redneck? I don't the comparison but apparently the deranged partisan liberal do!

    December 31, 2013 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  4. Malory Archer

    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.

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    So what's faux newz's excuse; they DON'T know what they're saying on a daily basis, so therefore there's no need for THEM to apologize?

    December 31, 2013 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  5. timkens

    Good for MHP, though, for delivering a real apology.

    We need more real apologies - "I'm sorry, I was wrong," not "I'm sorry if you were offended," which is a NON-apology.

    She blew it. She gets it. Still waiting for Phil Robertson to do likewise.

    December 31, 2013 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  6. The other guy

    Crazy! During election season, they dug up all they could, and all they couldn't, to poop on this guys head so that their boy would win. Now that the national damage has been done, you find a conscience? This is so harmless by comparison and now you're outraged? Spare me.

    December 31, 2013 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  7. NotBuyingThereAreThatMany1%erRomneyPostersThatAreSoIlliterateThatTheyCan'tEvenReadTheArticle

    Yep, some guy is posting here over and over with poor English skills using a different name each time.

    December 31, 2013 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  8. NATHAN WIMBERLY

    I remember when the Guns Over People tea potty sent the blondes after their token Herman Cain because he won a couple of primaries. I Hope that their next token Dr Ben Carson has been paying attention.

    December 31, 2013 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  9. Mike Buck

    Perhaps Harris – Perry will be suspended by A and E, I mean MSNBC, until the Take Education Away (TEA) Party members complain that her First Amendment Rights were violated. Now I can go back to never watching Duck Dynasty.

    December 31, 2013 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  10. Another phony drama...snooze

    She shouldn't apologize!! Interesting that the same Duck Dynasty followers who claim free speech should be protected by the 1st amendment....are nowhere to be found now. They are condemning MHP's rights to say whatever she wants.

    MHP's comments are nothing compared to the hate-filled rhetoric being flung around right-wing talk radio, Fox News...and all the paranoid fringe GOP, t-bagger blogs that are out there. The first black president has had to endure endless hate since DAY ONE.....and no one on the GOP seems to care.

    And as far as Sarah Palin is concerned, she should go back to her hobble in Alaska and remain there for eternity!!

    December 31, 2013 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  11. Greg

    Wow, you liberals defending this are closet racists as well! Disgusting people, but expected!

    December 31, 2013 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  12. Malory Archer

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

    +++++++++++++++++++++++

    Because faux newz and a.m. radio have exclusive rights.

    December 31, 2013 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  13. Kris

    Reverend Al Sharpton, where's the outrage?

    December 31, 2013 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  14. Bev in Georgia

    Agreed, Ridiculous article.

    December 31, 2013 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  15. Kevin

    Isn't Ms. Perry suppose to be a fair and impartial journalist? If a white person had said this they would have been called a racist among other things and fired immediately. I believe Ms. Harris should be held to the same standard and immediately dismissed. If MSNBC doesn't fire her they are demonstrating that not only do they agree with her but that they endorse her opinion. She is a disgrace to the world of journalism as well as the human race.

    December 31, 2013 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  16. Chris

    its still child abuse, they are going to raise him in the Mormon Cult.

    December 31, 2013 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  17. Hilikus

    lol...the stories about the other news agencies always get the top spot.

    December 31, 2013 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  18. cassarit

    Why should anyone apologize? They did it for political reasons. They put the kid front and center in the pic to make a statement, and people are right to be cynical about that. But more seriously, there a black kid who given the Romney's twisted corporate oriented ideology and apostate brand of Christianity, will probably grow up thinking he's somehow defective.

    December 31, 2013 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  19. David M

    Just confirms what I have thought for a very long time. Talking media heads have combined in to a pool of ignorancef. They feel they can say whatever they want, then say,, oh sorry, didn't mean to hurt anyone. Please. Pander to someone else. The rest of us are sick of you.

    December 31, 2013 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  20. Freedom of Speech

    I feel sorry for the baby. The Romney's are just one weird family. Why the heck are all the children dressed alike in this staged photo.

    December 31, 2013 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  21. Dave

    I don't know what scares people more. The misplaced jokes about a multi-racial family or the idea that in 20 years that adopted AA child may very well become the face of the Republican party.

    December 31, 2013 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  22. jack

    I am astonished at the stupidity of network hosts. It's almost as if they are asking to be fired.

    December 31, 2013 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  23. cassarit

    Why should anyone apologize? They did it for political reasons. They put the kid front and center in the pic to make a statement, and people are right to be cynical about that. But more seriously, there a blaak kid who given the Romney's twisted corporate oriented ideology and apostate brand of Christianity, will probably grow up thinking he's somehow defective.

    December 31, 2013 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  24. jeff

    Shut up... Trumped up and entirely fake moral outrage. Nothing more. Republicans just wait around all day for slightly off the cuff jokes from liberal pundits that can be turned into misleading sound bites. How can anyone take this seriously? There is no racial sensitivity AT ALL in the collective hive known as the Republican party so why do we give them a platform to play Pollyanna? Remember, Santa Claus is white. He just is.

    December 31, 2013 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  25. bruceben9

    I disavowed myself from the democrat party about 7-8 yrs ago. thanks for another reaffirmation of my decision to run as far and fast as I can from these bigoted, vile, less tolerant than the republicans, people. unfreakingbelievable. you continue to make me sick to my stomach almost daily. yuck. btw, I was a registered dem for about 20-25yrs.

    December 31, 2013 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
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