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MSNBC host apologizes after panel makes fun of Romney photo with black grandchild

Romney family photo
(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.

“As black child born into large white Mormon family I feel familiarity w/ Romney family pic & never meant to suggest otherwise.”

“I apologize to all families built on loving transracial adoptions who feel I degraded their lives or choices,” she continued, on Twitter.

During the segment, which appeared on the show “Melissa Harris-Perry,” the panelists made jokes about the infant standing out.

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 and MSNBC 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 said in an email to CNN he was also 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.

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.

2 comments

  • airjackie

    Interesting when you live history and don’t have read it. Melissa did listen to her Dad and see was correct. Mitt and I are 2 days apart in age and watched the history of the voting rights law. Well candidates rushed to get the large population of new voters. Candidates offered jobs, money and candy for your kid as others said they had black friends to assure no discrimination. It was common as few black elected officials at the time. Even Gov. Romney drew in large minorities as he tried to run for President. Look it was just the way things were. Mitt lost the election but had 47%. He struggled with the lost and said he felt he needed more of the minority votes that Obama got. Well I watched the interview and Mitt/Ann introduced the child as a black grandson but never mentioned they also had a new granddaughter. It was clear what point Mitt wanted the viewers to get as he saw that worked in the 60’s. Melissa will see like others when Mitt announces the he will run for the 2016 election and re-introduce his black grandchild. It did work in the 60’s and could work again and Mitt only needs 3.5% of the minority vote to win in 2016.

  • PCnews

    Amazing how the Networks’ “professionals”, increasingly, cannot
    control themselves while broadcasting.
    It’s so repetitive as to set their purposed mode and precedence.

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