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. Divine Pharaoh

    Stunt to attract black voters???? hmmmmm Romney 2016!!!!

    December 31, 2013 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  2. Tricia

    If only Mitt Romney would get over trying to convince everybody he's not such a pathetic idiot after all. Go Romney and live your life with your happy family.

    December 31, 2013 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  3. Harvey Tabasky

    Don't mock the Romneys. After all, Mrs. Romney gets a tax break for her exercise horse used to combat her MS which is obviously exacerbated by her heavy travel schedule. And thanks to Scottie Brown for weighing in, he of the 199,000 mile truck he used to get elected as Senator Stand-in while he negelcted to disclose that he owned six houses. The adoption is great for Romney's kid, but this is a cheap photo op for Mittie and Twittie. Lest anyone forget, how many times did Mitt meet with the NAACP when he was Governor of Massachusetts? That's right, Zero. None. And he's not interested in how many percent of the population? If it looks like a racist, sounds like a racist, and acts like a racist, you figure it out.

    December 31, 2013 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  4. Danny

    MSNBC is wrong, the comments were out of taste, but I've see fox say some nasty things and I haven't seen many apologies from them. The conservatives jumped on this immediately talking bad about the "liberal media". Fox has been racist for years and never apologizes. Just saying.

    December 31, 2013 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  5. IA

    Doesn't anybody see the irony on this blog? For a country of people assumed to be educated, there are alot of uneducated comments.

    December 31, 2013 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  6. amber

    Seriously, if the Romney's feel so victimized about absolutely nothing, maybe it's time for them to consider group therapy as their next family outing. Blue & pink shirts with neatly pressed khakis might be allowed for the event..ha....

    December 31, 2013 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  7. Justaguy

    When the Bush library was inaugurated – all living past presidents were there including Obama – did Pia Glenn / MHP sing their song? If someone at FOX News would have – Pia / MHP / the "Reverends" would have been all over it. I guess its OK for liberals to do this as its black on black.

    December 31, 2013 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  8. Thomas E

    I wouldn't be surprised if this family named him Sam "bo" Romney.

    December 31, 2013 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  9. lesWS

    CNN's transformation from mature news coverage to petty, sensationalist, gossipy, headline-seeking trash is about complete. I vowed to not read CNN again, gave them another chance today, and find an "insult" to the Romneys as the headline. With so much going on in the world, this is what producers think should be the top story??? CNN and Fox News . . . fast becoming kindred spirits.

    December 31, 2013 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  10. Mariel

    I can't get over the fact that all the boys are wearing blue and all the girls are wearing pink.

    December 31, 2013 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  11. canucken

    MSNBC is to the fringe left and news what FOX News is to the right. Both useless.

    December 31, 2013 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  12. ModOnDuty

    Why aren't they styling that baby's hair right?

    December 31, 2013 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  13. john rosen

    Melissa Harris-Perry is a racist pig. This is not the first time that she has embarrassed MSNBC and herself. When is MSNBC going to take her off the air?

    December 31, 2013 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  14. IA

    Harvey Tabasky...My last blog refers to the likes of it.

    December 31, 2013 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  15. chuck dor

    Look for Romney to run in 2016. He didn't get the black vote, so now he thinks he has the Pres. in the bag! I don't trust Romney at all! Especially how he treated American workers... long story! If you don't know about it research it on YouTube!

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

    So who is going to get fired/lose their job over this? Lots of outrage by liberals over any perceived slight or "bigote" comments from conservatives.

    This has hardly made a blip in the media . . .

    December 31, 2013 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  17. John

    "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"

    That was a joke right?

    December 31, 2013 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  18. Kaye

    I think its funny too! 🙂

    December 31, 2013 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  19. JGo2.0

    clearly this was hate speech

    December 31, 2013 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  20. andrea groves

    It's funny, people say stuipd crap about Obama each and every day. Even stuff about about his family. Where is their apology? The fact is wheter we like some of them or not, they dont deserve the hatefullness we so called Amercians say about them. They are human, like all of us. And like all of us we do things others may not agree with.

    December 31, 2013 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  21. Shawn

    Forget the black kid. I think we just found the source of overpopulation.

    December 31, 2013 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  22. ivan

    Lighten up people! How small is your world anyway?

    December 31, 2013 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  23. Denise

    PLEASE!!!!! White people have been saying hateful and nasty things about black people since y'all brought our @$$ over here and you NEVER have any remorse about how evil and hateful you are. I can't comment on why the baby was adopted but I don't think she owes anyone an apology. When y'all call us monkeys you don't apologize. Biggest hypocrites ever...hell is hot...please believe.

    December 31, 2013 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  24. sissy

    I just do not see how this is such a big deal. The girls wearing ORANGE and PINK while the boys wore blue is very odd to me.

    December 31, 2013 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  25. Will D

    If you really think they meant to be hateful, then you are really thin skinned. The photo is obvious to anyone that the child is adopted or she slept with a black man. Is it now politically incorrect to even notice the differences in us? What a waste of an apology...who would take this in any way but as a joke? Of all folks the hater in Chief...Sarah Palin that is funny!

    December 31, 2013 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
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