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. Conscience of a Conservative

    MSNBC shows itself as racist and not tolerant. Not to say that such
    things don't happen from the right, but liberals claim they are above
    this sort of thing, and they're not. This is not the first time MSNBC
    has engaged in this rather puerile behavior. Melissa Harris Perry and MSNBC should be ashamed.

    December 31, 2013 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  2. Reality

    Kieran looks like a happy baby, wish him the best in life.

    December 31, 2013 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  3. JonB

    I don't think that the comments were particularly funny. But, I do get a chuckle out of the little boy right behind Romney who looks like he is having a melt-down...

    December 31, 2013 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  4. Not Surprised

    Liberals are disgusting - two sets of rules, one set for themselves and another set for everyone else.

    December 31, 2013 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  5. Name

    Leftists are so full of hate that they cant control their mouths.

    December 31, 2013 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  6. DeepeThought

    This is not some right wing conspiracy. Are you psycho?Harris-Perry apologized! -an admission.
    What I am really surprised about was that anyone was even watching the show to notice. The best they can do to debate the issues is be critical of individual's families! Wow, how low can they go.

    December 31, 2013 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  7. DeepeThought

    This is not some right wing conspiracy. Are you psy cho? Harris-Perry apologized! -an admission.
    What I am really surprised about was that anyone was even watching the show to notice. The best they can do to debate the issues is be critical of individual's families! Wow, how low can they go.

    December 31, 2013 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  8. headdesk

    The kid is lucky to be in a family that calls him a name that refers to his color. That is just not right. Mormons look up names and they have meaning because they are forever families beyond death.

    Palin named her son Trig after his affliction. It is not nice.

    December 31, 2013 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  9. robert

    PMS-NBC Propaganda Network. Who watches that socialist garbage anyway?

    December 31, 2013 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  10. Gregory

    I don't really understand someone taking offense at the obvious. A black child in a sea of white faces. How could you not notice that? And to mention that is a hate crime? Come on. Beautiful family photo though.

    December 31, 2013 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  11. deb7225

    Amazing how these people get away with such crap merely by issuing an apology (that they probably don't even believe they owe anyone). So tired of all of these political pundits and hacks. It's never been so bad and sad. Time for term limits, 3rd parties, campaign spending limits that are reasonable, removal of anyone from the boob tube that spouts such garbage. Of course that won't happen in this country. Too much money and power at stake.

    December 31, 2013 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  12. Ninja, Please!

    All this political correctness makes the world so bland. Learn to laugh at yourself, at others, at the world.

    December 31, 2013 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  13. JJ

    Oh that's OK for the left wing pundits to do something like this and merely apologize; right?
    ALL IS FORGIVEN...........

    December 31, 2013 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  14. Pamela

    Trust the GOP pundits to jump on a mere joke, as they've done numerous times, & try to turn it into something ugly. One of the jokesters is a black woman adopted by white Mormons, for crying out loud! Give me a freakin' break. Get a sense of humor, morons – no one was mocking an innocent, beautiful baby. And Sarah Palin needs to do us all a favor & commit hari-kari.... please!!

    December 31, 2013 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  15. Gary

    It is likely that that the Romney family don't give a rats (biblical term for donkey here) what anybody else thinks. This is their business and their lives to do what they think is best for them. Everybody else can take a flying leap.

    December 31, 2013 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  16. pat chrapliwy

    I watched MHP everyday and saw this segment. I think we all forget that when Romney was running for president and made the 47% remark, he wasn't talking about the upper 1%. clearly he was talking about minorities. what about all the other white families who have adopted children out of their race? in my opinion, it wasn't about the baby but the fact that republicans clearly have a problem with minorities. she didn't have to do the segment but she did bring out the two-faced attitude of Romney. I know the baby has been adopted into privledge and I'm glad for the child. but to fire MHP for what she and other MSNBC hosts say is getting kind of ridiculous when fox hosts and radio heads have been doing racist segments since Barack Obama became president!!! I'm just fed up with how one political side can say one thing and get away with it (saying, "oh, we expect that from fox" or "limbaugh) , while the other side's hosts get fired for what they say. CNN, I know you try and stay fair in your reporting, I watch you everyday but you just gave the right more fire to play with. I agree with the post from DrDSW4!!!

    December 31, 2013 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  17. Victor

    As long as a Liberal says these things, it's ok apparently.

    December 31, 2013 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  18. Blue

    The GOP will jump on anything to belittle the democrats. What Phil Robertson said is far worse than anything that I have heard that belittles. Phil and his type are the problems not Melissa.

    December 31, 2013 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  19. Asaph

    If they're sorry, it will cost jobs. If not, it won't. If nothing else, they will lose viewers, at least they should.

    December 31, 2013 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  20. darknesscrown

    What someone else said, only racists see people's skin color. So there isn't anything more to say about that. What they SHOULD make fun of is how utterly CREEPY that photo is. The Romney's are a wealth of comedic material on their own.

    December 31, 2013 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  21. Jeffrey Sabo

    I have a sneaky suspicion that this adoption is nothing more than a political ploy. Maybe know black voters may vote for this man because he has a child of color in their "mitts". I hope that we as a people with intelligence will see through this.

    December 31, 2013 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  22. Jim gibbons

    I do not watch any form of NBC and if the public stop watching the ratings would not support the show.NBC has to be the lowest form of life on earth and those people who watch are no different

    December 31, 2013 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  23. crimsoninok

    Liberal Trash.. Nothing more.. Conservatives, we need to move on and accept that we cannot make something good from trash.

    December 31, 2013 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  24. 1uniquemonique

    I find it hard to believe that this man who wanted to be President of the United States, referred to Blacks as the 47%, will accept a Black grandchild. One thing is for sure, they made certain he wasn't a "darkie." This is just some political stunt for the Romney's to say "see were not racists, we have a Black grandchild."

    December 31, 2013 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  25. outawork

    If this would have been a Foxnews reporter..........

    December 31, 2013 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
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