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. tstorm92

    Wow, you'd think the Romney's were on Fox News or something??

    December 31, 2013 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  2. 1375

    No David Beach Duck just stated what he believes. Freedom of speech. No more ridiculous than Harry Reid calling the Tea Party anarchists and terrorists and Pelosi calling the OWS "movement" organic.

    December 31, 2013 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  3. Ricky Gibson

    The MSNBC people shoudn't have gone there–they got their fingers slapped, and were rightful for apologizing.

    However, someone from the right being outraged at "exchanging hateful opinions"?

    Gimme a break.

    December 31, 2013 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  4. Mike

    Harris perry is a racist pig just as Michael dyson is

    December 31, 2013 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  5. Dick Guzinyia

    Totally gutless, sleazy, and contemptible remarks.
    These cowards are typical of the "Oh-What-Clever- People-We-Are" libs.
    Disgusting feckless fakes.

    December 31, 2013 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  6. 1375

    Again SteveHunt Fox is lone red island in a sea of blue. Nobody "outslimes" Fox? Not Ed Schultz, Alan Colmes, Lawrence O' Donnell, not to mention 99% of Hollywood?

    December 31, 2013 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |

    I think an apology was necessary and I'm surprised Glenn and Obeidallah initially defended their comments. They were obviously going to offend someone and it amazes me that they didn't see that at the time. This reminds me exactly of the brainless producer that mocked the fake sign language guy from the Mandella funeral. Or the recent PR ditz that tweeted a racist AIDS joke. How do these people get these kinds of jobs without having a shred of common sense?

    December 31, 2013 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  8. 1375

    They seem nice people. Their "crime" is being rich and white and successful in a nation now full of people that want what they have without working for it.

    December 31, 2013 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  9. bill

    Apologizing after you originally stood behind your actions is pretty lame!

    As a white grandfather with six black grandchildren all I will say is shame on MSNBC, this just goes to show the shallowness of your beliefs that you claim to be important (as long as you can use them to your favor). These people should be fired or MSNBC should just come out and say that they only play the race card when it's in their favor. HYPOCRITES!!! MSNBC, pick a side, which is it!

    funny at any cost isn't funny! As a nation we are teaching our children that it is ok to put others down and make insensitive remarks as long as they are popular insensitive remarks. This is pervasive and we should call it wrong when we see it, we should change it in ourselves when we see it too!

    December 31, 2013 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  10. Vikesboy

    Binders Full of Children

    December 31, 2013 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  11. martaj

    While what MHP and her guests did was inappropriate and tasteless, why is she being held to a different standard. If you held Fox News to the same standard they would shut the network down and I note that they all came to the defense of the patriarch of Duck Dynasty. Ridiculous!

    December 31, 2013 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  12. sb

    Now Romney can say that 46.999% wont vote for him, in his next run for presidency.

    December 31, 2013 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  13. gary kolenich

    Who the heck watches MSNBC, other than lazy liberals? Nuke the whole network.

    December 31, 2013 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  14. IA

    @ American....Really? Put you and Terry in Florida together and we have ourselves a "half wit". Get your facts straight!

    December 31, 2013 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  15. bill

    I'm waiting to see if Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton and other black activists jump on this racist event or do they not care because Mitt is involved?

    December 31, 2013 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  16. Chip

    Ugh...can we go two days without someone being "outraged" about something? Sticks and stones...

    December 31, 2013 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  17. brandon

    Did they actually say something offensive? I cant find it in the article?

    December 31, 2013 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  18. MollyBee

    Thanks for apologizing, Melissa. You know you were wrong. Now, just like Phil Robertson, you have to suffer the consequences of what you have said.

    December 31, 2013 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  19. Malory Archer

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


    They say much worse on a daily basis. Yet they're still feted and defended by your ilk and the people offended by their comments are told to "get over it".

    December 31, 2013 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  20. LibDebunk

    Goes to show the hypocrisy of the Democratic party! Do as I say not as we do! For all you Romney haters out there, how does a picture of him holding is grandchild in a loving way destroy your narrative? Hard to call him a racist now liars!!!

    December 31, 2013 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  21. Neitherblacknorwhite

    I believe most abandoned children would welcome a warm clean house, hot food and clean clothes. Many in Hollywood have adopted black children ( from Africa). Why is that not considered a P.R. stunt?
    Please, those on the left: would you rather have a black baby going from foster home to foster home or being raised by a negligent parent?
    Again, to ms Perry, How many elite/affluent black families have adopted a white child?
    To all, don't view the world thru hatred filled eyes, as all you will see is darkness...

    December 31, 2013 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  22. DJ

    I'm sure the Romney's never sent the Christmas Card to MSNBC in the first place and if they did it wasn't so some half-wit talking heads could use it only to poke fun at their grandson. Apparently a new low has been reached in the trashy world of partisan politics. This really demonstrates a serious lack of leadership at MSNBC. Phil Robertson was poking fun at anyone let alone a defenseless infant.

    December 31, 2013 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  23. Donna David

    As the grandmother of two adopted grandchildren. One hispanic and one biracial. I am sickened by MBNBC. I have t12 grandchildren, eight of them blond haired and blue eyed. Three hispanic and on biracial, these adopted grandchildren as as much mine as the blue eyed blond haired ones. Once again MSNBC has sunk to a new low.

    December 31, 2013 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  24. Bill

    MSNBC, where smug liberals go to watch other smug liberals act smugly about their imagined superiority.

    December 31, 2013 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  25. Malory Archer

    They seem nice people. Their "crime" is being rich and white and successful in a nation now full of people that want what they have without working for it.


    Right-o 1375! All those Americans who lost their pensions, which ended up in mittens' pocket without his having working for it thanks to his vulture capitalist dealings, DO want them back!

    December 31, 2013 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
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