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. Roger

    Just goes to show you how racist liberals really are. Look at comments by the left here.

    December 31, 2013 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  2. Marc L

    It is not a matter of sensitivity. It is the hypocrisy. These people who proclaim to be such open minded, free thinking people quickly went after a person simply because of who the person was and their dislike for them. Had the people in the picture been a friend of theirs, another liberal, they would not have made the same jokes. That is the hypocrisy and lie about their agenda.

    December 31, 2013 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  3. A Joke, Right?

    Mitt, under his breath: You guys will have to construct an extra large jungle-gym and a tall fence to keep that one occupied in your own green space.

    December 31, 2013 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  4. elizabeth M Carson

    BTW thanks for affirming that GOD is priceless- Bless your heart-no really

    December 31, 2013 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  5. Tim

    Really what a comedy of errors, these news folks with no class!! With all the IMPORTANT issues tody in the US and around the world this is what they have to talk about!!?? Rediculous! I'm quite sure this will quite down fast as they are certainly "Better than Most" but hey, bet they won't forget about Mr. Phil Robertson (My Hero). I say, forget these fools on the news and work on what REALLY MATTERS in life.......Simply fools......

    December 31, 2013 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  6. Thomas E

    One word..token.

    December 31, 2013 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  7. Jason Alexander

    Quite interesting but not surprising at all. This just shows that black people are just as racist and discriminatory as white people.

    December 31, 2013 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  8. Art

    Do liberals really feel the need to attack small infant children? I feel sorry for the sick mentality of MSNBC and anyone associated with them.

    December 31, 2013 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  9. daveinla

    Harris-Perry is also a college professor. Go figure. Marxist on MSNBC attack a conservative white Christian family. How are we surprised? Typical of liberals to hate others.

    December 31, 2013 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  10. akcoins

    You people are unbelievable. The worst comments were by Pia (whoever she is). The other comments were pretty benign: Shows the diversity of the GOP. There is a lot of truth to that statement. The baby is gorgeous and I predict he will marry Kanye Wests daughter. How derogatory! This is by far worse than anything the Duck guy said. You people and your fake anger kill me. Right wing radio and tv host say worse things everyday and don't get called out and if they do they don't apologize.

    December 31, 2013 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  11. Gary

    How is this news and how does it justify being the lead story. Yes on they were potentialy wrong to do say those things but how is this news? A story somewhere down the page. OK but top story?

    December 31, 2013 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  12. byterider

    Read... "I'm sorry I got caught."

    Boycott msmnc sponsers.

    December 31, 2013 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  13. Namer

    Betcha none of those kids will b on OBama care!

    December 31, 2013 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  14. jimmy

    CNN is closing in on FOX for nothing but lame news....move on are the joke

    December 31, 2013 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  15. Clarice McEntire

    Just the Romneys planning in advance. They'll probably need a whole new staff of stable hands to care for their prancing horses in a few years...always thinking of the future...

    December 31, 2013 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  16. Ptah

    Really is this news??? Come on CNN

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

    Any poster who can overlook this matter and justify it as a joke or make a joke about it is a hypocritical racist bigot. You would yell, scream and stomp if this were said by any conservative network....but hey, it was about the Romneys so why not? You are no different than those you ALWAYS criticize.

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

    Intolerance is something that both sides know. You can't defend Phil Robertson and chastise the people from CNBC without comprehending the hypocrisy. Then again, maybe you are.

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

    But it DOES look like the RNC!!!!

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

    Consevatives have enemies. Those people that want to destroy our nation and its way of life. Liberals have enemies because THEY NEED THEM to justify their warped agenda.

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

    The true colors of the staff at MSNBC have come out and this is just another reason that MSNBC is losing viewers.

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

    Not seeing where this is even a story, much less all the finger pointing at Ms. Perry.

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

    Hypocrisy at MSNBC – big surprise! Double standard for those who don't hold the same beliefs as they do.

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

    Kris: As a black man, I want you to clearly understand: Al Sharpton no more represents THE ENTIRE BLACK RACE any more than a secretive bigot like Mitt Romney REPRESENTS THE ENTIRE WHITE RACE. Just because HIS SON adopted a black child, doesn't mean that it reflects the racial values and beliefs of Mitt Romney. How pathetic a comment you made. Comment on the story at hand, which is that these anchors were terrible and very offensive in their comments and jokes about the adoption of a beautiful child. They should be reprimanded by MSNBC.

    December 31, 2013 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  25. stellaire05

    What strikes me most in this family photo, It's " the uniform " blue for the guys and the pink for the girls, except for the baby " guy??? ", who is in pink! An explanation, please?

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