On Melissa Harris-Perry's show on Sunday, a segment featuring a panel of comedians riffed on a Romney family photo, which featured their adopted grandson Kieran, who is black. It went over about as well as any segment about the children of political figures, which is to say, not so well.
In the segment, actress Pia Glenn jokingly sang some lines from the Sesame Street song "One Of These Things"—as in "one of these things is not like the other"—and comedian Dean Obeidallah, remarked that the picture "really sums up the diversity of the Republican Party … they found the one black person."
Republicans were not pleased. Former Senator Scott Brown called on the network to apologize, while Romney 2012 campaign adviser Stuart Stevens had this to say:
MSNBC has become a club where the smug go to exchange hateful opinions and reassure each other it's acceptable. http://t.co/NVzFLyuTvV— stuart stevens (@stuartpstevens) December 30, 2013
Glenn walked back her statements in an apology on Twitter, writing in part:
In a spontaneous reaction to a photo,my disdain for Mitt Romney's political platform led me to inadvertently insult adoptive families.— Pia Glenn (@PiaGlenn) December 31, 2013
I can say all day what I "meant", but my intentions do not negate the very real pain I have caused. I sincerely apologize.— Pia Glenn (@PiaGlenn) December 31, 2013
Obeidallah apologized in a statement to CNN, saying:
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. 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 this case, it's more the medium than the message that is being disputed. The Republican party certainly has had a long history of issues with minority outreach, but it's generally bad form to bring up the children of politicians to win an argument (see: the NRA and Obama's children). And it's even worse form to poke fun at a baby! Most people like babies and those who do not rarely cite the baby's political leanings as a reason. Also, goofing on Mitt Romney more than a year after his electoral defeat is pretty much the textbook definition of kicking a horse when they're down.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to email@example.com.