MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry tearfully apologized Saturday for poking fun at a Mitt Romney family photo that included his adopted African-American grandson, but the apology failed to end a discussion that initially seemed mired in political posturing.
“Several days later the controversy seems only to have grown larger as competitors like CNN and the Fox News Channel have weighed in multiple times and Twitter and other social media continue to spread news of the MSNBC segment,” Paul Bond wrote Thursday for the Hollywood Reporter.
On Sunday, “Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace was unsatisfied when the 2012 GOP presidential candidate said, “I recognize that people make mistakes, and the folks at MSNBC made a big mistake. They’ve apologized for it, and that’s all you can ask for. I’m going to move on from that, I’m sure they want to move on from it. I’ve made plenty of mistakes myself, and they’ve apologized for this, and we can go on from there.”
Surely, Wallace seemed to say as he pressed for more, you can say something more explosive. But Romney remained conciliatory.
Media critic Howard Kurtz, writing for Fox News on Friday, likened Harris-Perry’s remarks to other spoken missteps at MSNBC involving Alec Baldwin and Martin Bashir. “If there is a theme to these episodes, it is a view of Republicans and conservatives as so mean-spirited, hard-hearted and clueless that just about any rhetoric against them can be justified,” Kurtz wrote.
As Bond explained in the Hollywood Reporter, the original segment “had Harris-Perry showing newsworthy photos of 2013 to a panel and asking them to come up with clever captions. The one photo that didn’t include an image of President Barack Obama was a Mitt Romney Christmas card that featured a photo of the former Republican candidate for president surrounded by his wife and grandchildren. On his lap sat infant Kieran Romney, the adopted black son of one of Romney’s sons.
“On seeing the photo, one panelist, actress Pia Glenn sang, ‘One of these things is not like the other … and that little baby, front and center, would be the one,’ as Harris-Perry laughed. Another panelist, comedian Dean Obeidallah, joked that the image ‘sums up the diversity of the Republican party.’ Harris-Perry cracked up the panel of four with the notion that Kieran could some day marry North West, the child of Kanye West and Kim Kardashian. ‘Can you imagine Mitt Romney and Kanye West as in-laws?’ she asked.”
In her written Dec. 31 apology, Harris-Perry said, “The intent of featuring the photo was to celebrate it — I often speak to the issue of the increasingly diverse American family.