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. Ron Sampson

    I bet not one of those kids are listed in his will.

    December 31, 2013 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  2. Enough is Enough

    Someone states what he believes=BIGOT or RACIST.....someone makes a joke out of adopting a child of another race=Just a JOKE....and we are told to get over it RACIST.....no wonder this country has gone to where it is......the LEFT is the problem with this nation....and they are too dense to see it.....

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

    What a coward, singling out infants for ridicule. Hiding behind a 140 character tweet or web text is not an apology. Make it the same level as the offense, on the air. Boycott every MSNBC advertiser.

    December 31, 2013 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  4. historyspeaks10

    wasnt steve martin born into a poor black family?

    December 31, 2013 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  5. US SOLIDER

    Romney didn't adopt the kid if it's his grandson.... think before you speak.

    December 31, 2013 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  6. Tom

    Of course we have doubled standards that are racist. If this was a white person making these kind of racist remarks, NCAACP would be head hunting for that persons job. I don't see Al Sharpton, or Jesse Jackson or any other of these doubled standard organization stepping up to the plate for her head and her job. .

    December 31, 2013 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  7. greg

    Quit making a mountain out of a mole hill. Give either the far right or left a reason to complain about each other and they will always blow it out of proportion. What they said was humorous and meant to be humorous. If you are offended, get over yourself and put your energy into something positive. Toughen up and find the humor in things, not the offense in everything!

    December 31, 2013 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  8. sal

    Don't "tweet" that apology. Open your mouth on TV.

    December 31, 2013 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  9. Shocking.......

    I notice that MSN doesn't want people to comment on their website over this. ........

    It figures......

    December 31, 2013 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  10. Anonymous

    She should be fired........

    December 31, 2013 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  11. RS

    So refreshing to see liberals saying what they REALLY think.

    Ugly, but refreshing.

    December 31, 2013 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  12. sal

    What else is new? Liberals included Sarah Palin's infant child with Downs Syndrome in jokes back in 2008.

    December 31, 2013 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  13. can'ttakeajoke

    I thought it was funny.

    December 31, 2013 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  14. Suzi

    She should lose her job....If the comment had been on Fox about Biden or Obama, the "news person would be gone and ridiculed beyond belief.

    December 31, 2013 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  15. Shelly Clark

    What comes out of our mouths is indicative of who we are at the core. I think this panel showed us their "True Colors".

    December 31, 2013 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  16. History 2

    This photo did not just " happen " to be posted by MSNBC.

    It was thought out and deliberately posted for the commentator and guests to comment on. And comment they did, showing their true colors. The commentator, Ms. Melissa Harris-Perry could see what was obviously coming, and yet allowed it to be shown and allowed the gutter comments to be made.

    The remarks made were deliberate, insensitive to innocent children, and clearly racist. Pia Glenn in particular needs to understand that a Kieran James Romney is a child, and not a " thing " to be joked about for her to score points on.

    Racist gutter politics of the worst sort, yet again originating from MSNBC.

    December 31, 2013 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  17. reallyamused

    This makes my stomach turn. What does that child have to do with Mr. Romney's politics? Ridiculous excuse. This from the party of tolerance. Shame on you. And just what do you think Mr. Obama's family pictures look like?

    December 31, 2013 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  18. SteveHunt

    The folks who are so 'outraged' about this non-story (which is essentially just some gentle ribbing) have never heard of Fox News...when it comes to personal ridicule and sarcastic attacks, nobody out-slimes Fox.

    December 31, 2013 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  19. Tom in Santa Fe

    What BS apologies. They (MSNBC craporters) will get in your face on-air and disgustingly insult others, yet when it comes to apologizing, they hide behind e-mail, Twitter, and other electronic faceless forms. Heck, how do we even know if these feckless twits are actually submitting their tweets and not staffing it out? And to say, to the effect of, "sorry but I am going to do it again...", CNN should drop, or even out right ban, Dean Obeidallah from submitting his "opinion" pieces. But I guess I'm smoking a pipe dream if I expect to actually see and hear any of those repugnant jerks apolgize on-air. And this has nothing to do with politics – it was tasteless, crass, and out-right wrong.

    December 31, 2013 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  20. Malory Archer

    Neitherblacknorwhite
    Why are all the liberals so unhappy that the Romneys have adopted (an apparent unwanted) black child.

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

    We're not, so put the little strawman away. The real issue is the hypocrisy on display by the right. The panelists' comments were mild by comparison to the daily venom spewed by faux newz and a.m. radio, yet we're told to "get over it" while your ilk clutches their pearls and feigns outrage at a molehill.

    December 31, 2013 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  21. 1peevedbob

    Headline reads MSNBC "Jokes"...
    Actually MSNBC is JOKE..............

    December 31, 2013 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  22. db

    They are teasing Mitt Romney, not the baby. The guy is seen as being uptight and out of touch (with his 47% comments and his strapping his dog on the roof of his car and his elevators for his automobiles, etc.) so people find one black baby out of 30 in his family photos as giggle-inducing. Also, they made sure Mitt the Magnificent would be he one holding the black baby for the photo, like is some racially tolerant Santa. The whole thing is goofy.

    December 31, 2013 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  23. tstorm92

    Who cares? Romney is a has-been conservative. Just go away....

    December 31, 2013 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  24. Tony

    Imagine if Limbaugh, Beck, or some mouthpiece of the right made these jokes. The left would be coming completely unhinged.

    December 31, 2013 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  25. db

    They are teasing Mitt Romney, not the baby. The guy is seen as being uptight and out of touch (with his 47% comments and his strapping his dog on the roof of his car and his elevators for his automobiles, etc.) so people find one black baby out of 30 in his family photos as giggle-inducing. Also, they made sure Mitt the Magnificent would be he one holding the black baby for the photo, like he is some racially tolerant Santa. The whole thing is goofy.

    December 31, 2013 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
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