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Posted by on Jan 5, 2014 in Featured, Media, Politics | 8 comments

Romney accepts apology of MSNBC’s Harris-Perry for comments about grandchild (Video)

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Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in a Fox News appearance has accepted the apology of MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry for comments she and her panel guests made about his African-American grandson.

Perry’s comments had set off a firestorm of criticism and she apologized several times, culminating in a tearful on-the-air apology yesterday. Romney today said he accepted her “heartfelt apology” and that the MSNBCers made a mistake, noted that those in the political arena fully expect criticism — but children are “beyond the line.”

“I think people recognize, and the folks at MSNBC who have apologized recognize, people like me are fair targets: If you get in the political game, you can expect incoming,” he said. “For children, that’s beyond the line. I think they understand that and feel that as well. I think it’s a heartfelt apology, and I think for that reason we hold no ill will whatsoever.”

Last week, Harris-Perry and several panelists poked fun at the grandson, with one, actress Pia Glenn, singing, “one of these things is not like the other.” The incident sparked outrage online, and Harris-Perry apologized both on Twitter and in a Saturday segment.

“We love this little guy a great deal. He was an answer to prayers. We love that he’s part of our family,” Romney said Sunday. “I recognize people make mistakes. The folks at MSNBC made a big mistake. They apologized for it. That’s all we can ask for. I’m going to move on from that. I’m sure they want to move on from that.”

Here’s the segment:

As usual, this incident has been most notable for several reasons. It again illustrates how people on ideological cable shows can undermine their own brand once they’re on the tube for a while when they surrender their own previous standards in talking about politics as they slip into America’s current political culture — a culture where the bar on respect for those belonging to different parties is lowered seemingly by the week. It’s also notable that even after Perry’s apology yesterday there were still some partisan Internet writers on the attack against her, even suggesting her tears were staged.

The tipoff that Camp Romney was not going to play that 24/7 attack-mode game and that they accepted the sincerity of her comment as a mistake (even though some Democrats were still defending her even as she apologized) came yesterday:

Shortly after MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry offered an emotional apology Saturday for a segment about Mitt Romney’s adopted black grandson, a top adviser to the 2012 GOP presidential nominee reacted with a tone of understanding.

“I believe positive can come from these things,” Stuart Steven wrote on Twitter, adding “we all make mistakes.”

“Here’s to many wonderful adoptions in 2014.”

Steven’s comments and Romney’s are notable in lacking that angry, snarky, no-matter-what-you-say-we-know-you-didn’t-mean it tone of some partisans.

Now the questions become 1)will the incident be laid to rest? and 2)Will Harris-Perry and other MSNBCers take not and perhaps rethink the notion that MSNBC has to be the anti-Fox News? The most perceptive comment on this controversy came from former MSNBC host Keith Olbermann as the firestorm over the comments spread and he Tweeted a question about his old employer:

“Any adults in charge over there?” Olbermann tweeted.

When one of his Twitter followers argued that the “GOP only likes freedom of speech when it applies to them,” Olbermann, who became a hero to liberals and an enemy to conservatives during his time at MSNBC, stood by his criticism.

“Not the point. You can have your standards, or their standards,” he responded.

It’s clear Romney and his adviser used a higher standard in reacting to Harris-Perry than some partisans in their party or the Democrats who were still defending her as she apologized. Will MSNBC ponder taking a step back from the tone of America’s political culture as well and not emulate but innovate?

Here’s Perry’s apology yesterday:

Christopher Halloran / Shutterstock.com

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  • cjjack

    First off…Chris Wallace gets a Christmas card from Mitt Romney? Interesting.

    Second, this segment was about three times as long as it should have been. Maybe Wallace was caught off guard by Mitt’s response and had to kill some time, but did he really need to keep pressing on the issue? Right off the bat Romney said he accepted the apology and was ready to move on. Wallace was apparently not.

    If he’s on the Romney family Christmas mailing list, I’m going to guess he knows Mitt well enough to know that he’s not going to get a rise out of him, but it looks like he was fishing for just that sort of reaction.

  • sheknows

    I am sorry, but I saw no ” official” Democrat party members ( other than crazy tweeters and maybe an entertainer or two defending her). Nothing like senators or ex vice president nominees or a congressman, or a talk show host etc.
    Democrats are usually not name callers and racists, and if they are, they get no defense from the party.

  • In spending hours surfing the web on this story, there were most assuredly partisan responses to this. The people who were most on the attack were bloggers and people in comments. And on the Democratic side, the arguments on blogs and among some bloggers (not all) was that she had nothing to apologize for, the right was ginning up a fake controversy, or towards the end some argued that the attack was not on the child or the Romney;s just on the Republican Party, which is not the impression at all when you view the original segment. Alan Colmes (who has an excellent blog and a great radio show) used that argument:
    http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/alan-colmes-melissa-harris-perry-apology-mitt-romney-black-grandson-kieran
    You didn’t see both sides just take a deep breath and react on the same wavelength as her apology or Romney’s acceptance. Partisanship and ideology did indeed influence how some folks reacted.

  • The_Ohioan

    A class response to a class apology. Good on you, Mitt.

  • Marsman

    An attack on a politicians’ family is clearly out of bounds.
    I do wish, however, that people would not find it necessary to impose their grandchildren on me. I take the picture and stare at it for three seconds, and then I say that it is the cutest kid I’ve ever seen and give the picture back. This leaves me feeling bad about myself.
    When a politician shows me his grandchildren, I know that this is for promotional purposes. I don’t like being used no matter how cute the baby. This also makes me feel creepy.

  • adelinesdad

    Wow, I had not heard of this. I think a lot of the offense-taking that comes up in political discourse is manufactured. But, here we have an example of something that is legitimately, seriously offensive, not just to the Romneys but to any mixed-race family.

    Harris-Perry’s apology is sincere. It’s a bit disappointing that her guest’s apologies, who arguably have more to apologize for, came with qualifications and defensiveness, from what I now read. But apologies aside, it’s still disturbing that they could look at this picture and have and express those thoughts, even if they later regretted it. What does that tell us about what happens to the human mind when we allow ourselves to revel in derision? It seems we become numb to it to be point where what we think and say might shock even ourselves. May we take a step back well before we reach that point.

    Mitt’s graceful forgiveness stands in stark contrast to the atmosphere of the campaign season, where everyone was pouncing on any word (sometimes even a syllable of a word) to gain advantage. If only we could apply today’s calm grace and reserved judgment to those less forgiving times.

    Not trying to bring up old arguments. Just hoping we can get at least a little bit of a “teachable moment” out of this, if we can (sorry, there’s another old argument).

  • adelinesdad, please post more often. So reasonable.

  • adelinesdad

    Thanks Kevin.

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