December 30th, 2013
05:27 PM ET
8 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. JSB

    It appears that MSNBC has pulled another one of their stunts to try and improve their ratings.

    December 30, 2013 10:35 pm at 10:35 pm |
  2. Dennis

    MSNBC is the most slanted biased network around. They make no attempt to be fair. Just awful.

    December 30, 2013 10:35 pm at 10:35 pm |
  3. Dan

    I can't believe the male guest in the video interview suggested the Romney's may have done this to exploit their black grandchild. What are they supposed to do? Leave him out of the picture? Imagine what would have been said then.

    December 30, 2013 10:36 pm at 10:36 pm |
  4. Richard

    The Romneys need to be commended in their adoption! It seems the comment was addressing the republican parties policies. We all know republicans would rather put money in rich peoples hands then poor peoples! So will that child want for anything, probably not! Will that child see the world through white peoples eyes, I think not.

    December 30, 2013 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
  5. Ray

    Oh please, like conservatives give a crap about people of color. The republican party is so diversed! Right! The Republican party came up with the terms welfare queens, and food stamps President, and the idiotic birther movement. We all know what that meant.

    December 30, 2013 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  6. Mark

    Just another smug liberal hypocrite that got a job in journalism like the rest

    December 30, 2013 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  7. Crampon

    Dems need to stop with the hate, adopting any child is a good thing. I would also think making fun of the Black child should be off limits.

    December 30, 2013 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  8. Lisa

    Funny that this baby, a boy, is the only boy wearing pink. All the other boys are wearing blue! Why hasn't this been pointed out? I noticed it during the show. Is he being feminized?

    December 30, 2013 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  9. Dusty

    Its sad when republicans have to adopt black children to fill their public relations quota...

    December 30, 2013 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
  10. JP

    All the non-apology-apologies just make it worse. They obviously don't even get why it was all so tasteless and offensive.

    December 30, 2013 10:52 pm at 10:52 pm |
  11. Rob

    Time to fire these cowardly Liberal media types for their extreme left wing prejudice and racist commentary!

    December 30, 2013 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm |
  12. Joe

    What other stupid thing is the news going to exaggerate? This story is pointless, show me some REAL news.

    December 30, 2013 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  13. grampsy

    My wife & I, both white, adopted an African American daughter 20 years ago, from Children's Protective Services. Our family photo has also had 'one thing that is not like the others!' We just laugh it off. We were careful to assure that she was aware of the history of blacks in America, & discussed heroes, both black & white. She is now 22 & in college, engaged to a white man. She was born addicted to heroin, & with arthrogryposis. Our biological sons & our adopted daughter have exceeded our expectations in so many ways. That little girl has added SO much to our family. Yes,some people would do a double-take when they saw my wife & I with a black child. My passive- aggressive manner for dealing with their judgment was to say "You know, my wife says she is mine, but gosh, she doesn't look much like me!" We decided, long ago that we chose as God guided us, the challenges existed, but the rewards have been so wonderful!

    December 30, 2013 11:00 pm at 11:00 pm |
  14. davel

    The boy does indeed stand out. He's the only boy in this picture who has been forced to wear the feminine colors otherwise assigned to the girls.

    December 30, 2013 11:02 pm at 11:02 pm |
  15. goinstrong

    I watched the broadcast, and found the "caption" extremely funny and clever. In no way would a reasonable person find anything but wry humor in the words.

    In NO WAY was it directed toward the alleged victim (adopted child) – it was simply a humorous comment about a pitiful former presidential candidate who is not what he purports to be – he is simply a socially & politically-disconnected soul. Such a person – with their comportment – BEGS for jokes and parody.

    I am as socially liberal and sensitive as I can be, and am aghast at the severe overreach of hypersensitivity. Pity!

    December 30, 2013 11:04 pm at 11:04 pm |
  16. goinstrong

    Post-script: if one wants accurate reporting, and holding people accountable, one cannot find a better source than MSNBC. Further, to identify MSNBC with hate or racism is beyond ridiculous. More haters, apparently, on the thread.

    How sad so many are so petty – and full of venom!

    December 30, 2013 11:06 pm at 11:06 pm |
  17. Smeagel4T

    It's a shame that MSNBC has fallen into the same mindlessness as Fox.

    December 30, 2013 11:10 pm at 11:10 pm |
  18. Tony Kaye

    ...only liberals are allowed to spew hatred. We get it.

    December 30, 2013 11:15 pm at 11:15 pm |
  19. Evergreen

    I see I have not missed anything by giving of television a few years back. When will real entertainment make a come back. Between realty shows and psuedo-news outlets, it's not worth the costs of a cable bill.

    December 30, 2013 11:16 pm at 11:16 pm |
  20. Candlewick

    It's official. MSNBC has bested FOX as the new dimwitted, politically-divisive, bigotry news channel.

    December 30, 2013 11:16 pm at 11:16 pm |
  21. DocHollywood

    Pretty classless act there. Melissa Harris-Perry has never been a good commentator and her show is often rambling and uncontrolled. I consider myself to be very liberal, and most of my friends find this just as wrong as if the right were doing it. You can't expect Fox News to have high standards and morals if you (MSNBC) do not have them also. Unfortunately, it seems neither networks do, nor do they care anymore.

    December 30, 2013 11:17 pm at 11:17 pm |
  22. DaveinCincy

    Congrats to the family and their adoption of a beautiful baby.
    Liberals are just mad this baby will go to college and be succesful instead of ending up mad, on welfare, in prison, and a democrat.

    December 30, 2013 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
  23. Valerie

    It is not up to the senior Romneys. The young couple adopted the black boy and they can't very well keep him their dirty, little, secret. So I guess if they want to send us that lovely greeting, the child has to be in the picture. It is diffictul to get people to adopt minority children. Heppy Holiday's to you Romneys also!

    December 30, 2013 11:27 pm at 11:27 pm |
  24. Anonymous

    Typical hate by the liberals. Phil Robertson 2016.

    December 30, 2013 11:34 pm at 11:34 pm |
  25. craigorie

    If Romney's son had adopted a black baby prior to the 2012 election the Republicans would never have nominate Mitt.

    December 30, 2013 11:35 pm at 11:35 pm |
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