MSNBC talk-show host Melissa V. Harris-Perry issued an apology on New Year’s Eve for snide comments by her and a panel of commentators Dec. 29 centering on the Black grandson of Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential candidate.
A series of tweets posted the morning of Dec. 31 in which Perry was contrite about leading her panel in a mocking, teasing stream of comments about the adopted Black infant of one of Romney’s sons drew a barrage of reactions in cyberspace.
“I am sorry. Without reservation or qualification. I apologize to the Romney family,” Harris-Perry said in the first of a series of tweets about a segment on her show in which she invited her panelists to poke fun at a photo of the Romney clan. The photo, used in the family’s holiday greeting card, showed the former Massachusetts governor holding the baby, Kieran Romney, in the center of a family photo.
“I work by guiding principle that those who offend do not have the right to tell those they hurt that they r wrong for hurting,” said the subsequent tweet.
“As Black child born into large White Mormon family I feel familiarity w/ Romney family pic & never meant to suggest otherwise,” Harris-Perry said.
In the offending segment Harris- Perry and her guests, including actress Pia Glenn and comedian Dean Obeidallah fired out one-liners .
“One of these things is not like the other, one of these things just isn’t the same,” said Glenn, referring to the playful lyrics sung by characters on “Sesame Street.”
Obeidallah compared the photo to traditional meetings of the Grand Ole Party, where he said Republicans “at the convention, they find the one Black person.”
Harris-Perry then shared her hopes to see Kieran Romney married off to Kanye West’s daughter, North West, so the two families could become in-laws.
She has since poured out apologies.
Opinions about the apology varied among the African American community. Was an apology even necessary? Was it sincere-- especially when accompanied by the hashtag “#MHPapology” ?
News media outlets, fans, and critics of Harris-Perry have all weighed in since the comments were made on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media websites.
“I watched the show and didn’t find it in bad taste,” said Spencer Moore, on the Melissa Harris-Perry Facebook page. “Nothing offensive was said.”
Still, others found the comments in bad taste, and were glad to see the apology posted.
“It was wrong, she acknowledged and apologized,” said Dawn Melissa Coe, adding her comment to the apology that garnered more than 2,000 responses by late Thursday.
“There are those who feel Melissa doesn’t owe the Romney family an apology and there are those who do,” said Nikki Wheeler, a viewer. “I commend her for being the honorable classy person she is for offering an apology to those who found her statements offensive regardless of her intent.”
Wheeler said that she believed Harris-Perry is sincere in the action . “She has offered no excuse, only an apology.”