Following his apology for seemingly insensitive comments he made about the culturally inconsiderate actions of a contestant on the show, “The Bachelor” host Chris Harrison is now “stepping aside” from the reality TV show.
In an Instagram post, he wrote “…By excusing historical racism, I defended it. I invoke there term “woke police,” which is unacceptable. I am ashamed over how uninformed I was. I was so wrong.
“To the Black community, to the BIPOC community: I am so sorry. My words were harmful. I am listening, and I truly apologize for my ignorance and any pain it caused you.”
He continued, “This historic season of ‘The Bachelor’ should not be marred or overshadowed by my mistakes or diminished by my actions.To that end, I have consulted with Warner Bros. and ABC and will be stepping aside for a period of time and will not join for the ‘After the Final Rose’ special.”
On the Feb. 9 episode of “Extra TV,” Harrison spoke to former bachelorette Rachel Lindsay about the social media turmoil concerning current contestant Rachael Kirkconnell and several racially offensive photos of her that have surfaced online, which she later apologized for. His response was somewhat sympathetic to Kirkconnell, and fans online were not happy with his answer, accusing Harrison of apologizing for Kirkconnell’s actions and acting dismissive concerning the impact of what she had done.
Following the outcry, Harrison released an official apology on Feb. 10 in which he addressed his comments and expressed regret for “wrongly speaking in a manner that perpetuates racism.”
“To my Bachelor Nation family — I will always own a mistake when I make one, so I am here to extend a sincere apology,” he said. “I have this incredible platform to speak about love, and yesterday I took a stance on topics which I should have been better informed. While I do not speak for Rachael Kirkconnell, my intentions were simply to ask for grace in offering her an opportunity to speak on her own behalf.”
“What I now realize I have done is cause harm by wrongly speaking in a manner that perpetuates racism, and for that I am so deeply sorry,” he continued. “I also apologize to my friend Rachel Lindsay for not listening to her better on a topic she has a first-hand understanding of, and humbly thank the members of Bachelor Nation who have reached out to me to hold me accountable.”
“I promise to do better.”
In January, Kirkconnell was the recipient of considerable backlash after a photo of her dressed in a Native American-inspired costume was posted on Reddit. She appeared to have also liked an Instagram post from June displaying women wearing Native American attire.
In the week prior, two additional photos were posted of Kirkconnell wearing an antebellum gown when she was allegedly present at “an antebellum plantation-themed ball” in 2018 according to the Reddit post. Then, on TikTok, she was accused of mistreating a former peer “in high school for liking Black guys.”
“On Extra,” Harrison debated Lindsay about Kirkconnell’s culpability for the actions demonstrated in the released photos.
“I haven’t talked to Rachael about it. And this is, again, where we all need to have a little grace, a little understanding, a little compassion,” Harrison. “Because I’ve seen some stuff online — again this judge-jury-executioner thing — where people are just tearing this girl’s life apart and diving into, like, her parents and her parents’ voting record. It’s unbelievably alarming to watch this. I haven’t heard Rachael speak on this yet. And until I actually hear this woman have a chance to speak, who am I to say any of this?”
“I saw a picture of her at a sorority party five years ago and that’s it. Like, boom. Like, ‘OK. Well, this girl is in this book now. And she’s now in this group.’ And I’m like, ‘Really?'” Harrison said.
Lindsay explained that the image was from “an Old South antebellum party” and “not a good look.”
“Well, Rachel, is it a good look in 2018? Or, is it not a good look in 2021? Because there’s a big difference,” Harrison responded.
Harrison tried to maintain that while he did not necessarily agree with what Kirkconnell did, he felt that someone’s perception of their actions in 2018 could change in the time since.
“You’re 100 percent right in 2021. That was not the case in 2018,” he said, pointing out that he was “not defending Rachael” before continuing, “I just know that, I don’t know, 50 million people did that in 2018. … That was a type of party that a lot of people went to. And again, I’m not defending it; I didn’t go to it. We are not looking under the same lens.”
“My guess? These girls got dressed up and went to a party and had a great time,” he continued. “They were 18 years old. Now, does that make it OK? I don’t know Rachel, you tell me. But where is this lens we’re holding up and was that lens available, and were we all looking through it in 2018? I don’t know. I don’t have these answers.”
Harrison said that he believes Kirkconnell will address the photos when she’s ready, “And if I disagree with her, if you disagree with her, then we can have our say.”
He later remarked that, “This poor girl Rachael, who has just been thrown to the lions, I don’t know how you are equipped when you have never done this before, to be woke enough, to be eloquent enough, to be ready to handle this. And my guess is, this woman needs a little time.”
Meanwhile, fans started a Change.org petition titled “Remove Chris Harrison From The Bachelor franchise,” that asked for 7,500 signatures. It is currently at over 21,000 signatures and gaining on the goal of 25,000. The petition accuses Harrison of having a “history of misogyny and racist behavior and racist-sympathizing behavior,” and states, “This is not a petition for an apology. It’s a petition for a new host.”