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. Rion L.

    The Romney Klan, always the victimized .0000000001%.

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

    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.


    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, and your post is chock full of false equivalence.

    That being said, I'm wondering which rightwing whiner is using the talking point referenced above by The Connserbvative. 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! BTW, attempting to inject "god" into the matter is priceless!

    December 31, 2013 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  3. bill

    I am waiting to hear the outraged Al Sharpton threaten to quit. Crickets, crickets, crickets

    December 31, 2013 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  4. AJ

    What do you expect? LIberals dont like babies. They abort them. Are you surprised they attacked the baby here?

    December 31, 2013 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  5. carol

    Sad this is a leading story. When we highlight people behaving badly it leads to more bad behavior. We need to go back to hundred of small media instead of 4 corporation controlling it al.

    December 31, 2013 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  6. Neville

    @Big_D : That was Don Imus

    December 31, 2013 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  7. S.A. Leiseca

    Pathetic, we have reached the low point. Mocking an infant, just because he is an African-American and a grandson of Mr. Romney. Then, apologizing without apologizing. And, still employed, not even a one week suspension! My, my...the prejudice and hypocrisy of it all. Well, I don't know what anyone else will do but I will continue not watching any programming on MSNBC or its parent NBC, except for an ocassionally sports event, nor to be fair, on FOX News. Perhaps the loss of advertising dollars will help promote a return of ethics. take care

    December 31, 2013 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  8. jowl

    Planned 'controversy'. They planned out exactly how this thing was gonna go from the beginning. All so that in grate Melissa Harris-Perry could get some press. I find her revolting.

    December 31, 2013 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  9. mike

    She will be forgiven because she's liberal and Black. And racist.

    December 31, 2013 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  10. Steve

    I'm sorry but this is very funny! Really, the picture says "white breads out shopping for a minority what do you'll think of t6his one"?

    December 31, 2013 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  11. PJ

    I am sure Keiran will be used someday in a Romney campaign. The old man is finished; however, thanks to the fact that they never enlisted in the army he has many sons.

    December 31, 2013 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  12. john Stone

    Every week there is someone who says something which offends others. Is it really a big deal? It won't change this wealthy childs life. Black or White or Brown or Green. This Romney kid will have more than I will ever dream of.

    December 31, 2013 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  13. michigan mom

    As a family who has adopted bi-racially I find those remarks EXTREMELY offensive. So much for being open minded! I don't see press mocking Pitt-Jolie for a bi-racial family why should a political figure of either party be mocked for giving a child a home. ANd this is why I never listen to MSNBC theirs is not unbiased reporting.

    December 31, 2013 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  14. Grumpymedic

    Wonder if they named this kid Token.

    December 31, 2013 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  15. LL

    @Mike...You miss the point. She had nothing to apologize for.

    December 31, 2013 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  16. Greg

    Freedom of speech, please free me from your ignorance, stupidity and racism!

    December 31, 2013 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  17. EP

    This is clearly the biggest news of the day…. It had top billing since 6:00am (PST)…. Thanks CNN

    December 31, 2013 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  18. WES

    All the MSNBC Host are miss-directed, brain washed spinners, like the inmates on death row that swear they are right or innocent. The NO News Channel is what they should call it – NNNBC
    One person i can think of on Fox News is the same way – but MSNBC is the worst

    December 31, 2013 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  19. John

    Melissa Harris Perry comments are disgusting in relationship to the Mitt Rommey and family

    December 31, 2013 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  20. Kelly

    Pathetic, no other word for MSNBC ...... Adoption is a great way to increase diversity and help orphans!! Did I mention pathetic?

    December 31, 2013 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |

    How sad. As much as i am for "Grace" and "Mercy" i am also one that preaches that according to God Discipline is "Love" as well. In this case there needs to be some dismissals, reprimands and more...... When you take on the positions that these reporters and television personalities have they are held to a higher standard and can't possibly be allowed to make that type of error in judgment. I forgive them but there needs to be actions taken against them for those remarks.

    December 31, 2013 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  22. Dan

    Conservatives making up a false controversy to make people forget about the REAL things they do that are truly abominable... Somehow I'm not surprised.

    December 31, 2013 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  23. JoJoJo

    One thing is certain.. That adopted child will be given proper values so that when he becomes an adult, he will be fully prepared to lead a respectful life.

    December 31, 2013 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  24. MB

    Romney's thought nothing of this... MSNBC is a load of misfit journalists that couldn't get jobs at real networks. Tune in and you can watch them act like high school losers.

    December 31, 2013 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  25. elee

    overly sensitive America

    December 31, 2013 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
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