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. Speedro

    Bravo on the adoption. But, Blech. Mormons are disgusting.

    December 31, 2013 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  2. Crimson King

    NO Apology required. period.

    December 31, 2013 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  3. Juan

    ADOPT ONE before anything YMF!

    December 31, 2013 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  4. Dee

    I love MHP but I think what the Romney family did is a good thing. There is a history of racism in the Mormon religion and any action that counteracts that is a good one. We should give credit where credit is due and stop demonizing each other. Why make fun of this family who took in a child not their own and gave that child a loving home. The race of the child is irrelevant really.

    December 31, 2013 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  5. Kenny Shackleford

    Though I do not agree with her for what she said it seems funny to me that you on the right seem to forget that just a few weeks ago you were in an up roar about the Duck Dynasty remarks by people on the left. You were screaming "Freedom of Speech." Does it not apply for both sides? Stop being hypocrits.

    December 31, 2013 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  6. wassupUSA

    Let me get this straight; if you're a conservative and you say/do something offensive, you should get fired or at least lose all your sponsors (e.g. Paula Dean). HOWEVER, if you're a liberal, you need only apologise. By the way, the article describes Obeidallah as a comedic commentator. Thanks for the clarity; I would have never have known he was trying to be funny (he sukks).

    December 31, 2013 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  7. sixthromeo

    Does one really want to end the year with a story so lame, so shallow, so contrived and worthless? Is this the "Christmas Bonus" given to the journalist for a totally failed year? Willard Romney has NO adopted grandson. Willard did NOT adopt this child, if he did then it would be an "adopted son." Now stop the lie about an "adopted grandson," get over Willard who lies through his teeth about his name and the aborted babies he buys for his company.

    December 31, 2013 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  8. Sam

    An evil, hateful heart lives inside Harris-Perry.

    December 31, 2013 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  9. John

    Here's another joke:
    the Boy, Kieran, is dressed like a girl in pink, while all other boys are in blue.

    And another one:
    Kieran literally means "black" in the old Irish/Gaelic. Go Google "kieran" and click on the first result from the thinkbabynames website.
    How's that for irony?

    December 31, 2013 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  10. Malory Archer

    jangocat
    If Melissa Harris-Perry was white she would already be fired.

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

    She's half white. Do you suppose there's some way for MSNBC to "half" fire her – right after everyone at faux newz and on a.m. radio is fired of course.

    December 31, 2013 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  11. sixthromeo

    Contrived BS on the part of the "journalist," what a crap story with which to end the year.

    December 31, 2013 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  12. Mike in Mississippi

    Do as I say not as I do!!!!

    December 31, 2013 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  13. Alpha

    CNN's said and done some pretty dumb things in the past, so let's not go throwing stones......

    December 31, 2013 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  14. Michael, Chapel Hil

    Now, who is the RACIST? Romney family or MSNBC?

    December 31, 2013 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  15. Sam

    Where is Al Sharpton?

    December 31, 2013 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  16. Anti-PMSNBC

    The Libs would rather see the child aborted than adopted.

    December 31, 2013 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  17. Deana B`

    We all know that if this remark was made by a republican, Jessie Jackson, Al Sharpton and the rest of NAACP would be filing charges for a hate crime.! Funny how quiet everyone gets when the remarks come from their side of the line.

    December 31, 2013 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  18. Journey

    Romney, Inc. must have found some minority adoption tax break somewhere.

    December 31, 2013 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  19. manhattanTech

    What the hell kinda family photo is this?...looks like a cult of weirdo kids in pre-approved attire. Who on earth goes out and buys the same clothes for ALL the kids in a family photo!?!?

    December 31, 2013 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  20. big jim McBob

    I wonder what Don Imus is thinking?

    December 31, 2013 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  21. Malory Archer

    L Blansitt
    It is only racist when liberals say it. What joke. Shame , shame , shame.

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

    FIFY

    December 31, 2013 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  22. Anonymous

    And when the kid turns 10 he'll be standing at the entrance of the Romney's long driveway holding a lantern.

    December 31, 2013 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  23. Truck

    @Terry in Florida,where does it say that Mitt Romney adopted the child? I doubt it was done as a publicity stunt & your comment shows your mentality.PERIOD.

    December 31, 2013 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  24. ex-sarge

    Granted the comments were awkward and rude, but wildly inappropriate? Hardly. Mildly inappropriate? Perhaps. I want to make clear that I thought getting rid of Alec Baldwin for his comments was called for (he shouldn't have had his show on MSNBC to start with, he is arrogant and has anger issues, hardly someone you would want representing your network), I was alright with the temporary suspension of Phil Robertson, but didn't think he should be fired, because he is not a pundit, and does not pretend to be one (I'm looking at you half-term Gov. Palin, you quitter). If you think the media is liberal, you shouldn't. Don't get your opinions of MSNBC from Fox News and don't get your opinions of Fox News from MSNBC, Think for yourself. Read a lot of different news sites (for the record, American Thinker isn't a news site, but then neither is the Daily Kos, if you're reading one, I heartily encourage you to read both just for balance). Read news from foreign news sources, The Guardian and Der Speigle are excellent. You don't want the Nanny State telling you how to think and act, so why be content with the infotainment that Big Daddy Corporate Media feeds you 24/7?

    December 31, 2013 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  25. Neitherblacknorwhite

    Why are all the liberals so unhappy that the Romneys have adopted (an apparent unwanted) black child. He probably will be brought up in a much better household than what his biological parents could have provided. Give credit where it is due. How many well off black families have adopted a non black child? Please give your vitriol a rest.

    December 31, 2013 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
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