Chris Harrison has responded to Kaitlyn Bristowe's claim their friendship "went down the toilet" when she accepted ABC's offer to co-host The Bachelorette after Chris' exit from the franchise in 2021.

Kaitlyn said she felt like Chris hated her and wanted nothing to do with her after she agreed to co-host The Bachelorette's seventeenth season, which starred Katie Thurston, alongside Tayshia Adams during a January appearance on the "Not Skinny But Not Fat" podcast.


Kaitlyn and Tayshia also went on to co-host Michelle Young's The Bachelorette season, but Jesse Palmer took over as the sole host of the franchise in early 2022.

Chris and Kaitlyn had a candid conversation about the supposed demise of their friendship, which was once very strong and meaningful to them both, during the February 6 episode of the former The Bachelor host's "Most Dramatic Podcast Ever" podcast.

"What I took from this when I read the articles, listened to the podcast that she did, it wasn't a cry for help, but I took it as a cry for something that she lost -- something that she was sad that she lost, and that was our friendship," Chris said on his new podcast.

"And so instead of getting mad, or even disappointed, which I'm not, I was saddened that a friend of mine was mourning the loss of our friendship and that that friendship had changed. And yes, to a certain degree, it did change."

While Matt James' The Bachelor season was airing in early 2021, Chris sparked major backlash when he conducted an Extra interview with the first Black The Bachelorette star, Rachel Lindsay, and defended Season 25 contestant Rachael Kirkconnell's racially-ignorant and racially-insensitive actions in her recent past.

After issuing multiple public apologies that didn't exactly sit well with the majority of Bachelor Nation, Chris announced he was leaving The Bachelor franchise for good in June 2021.

Chris and Kaitlyn said they talked on the phone during the controversy, and although Kaitlyn was disappointed with what Chris had said in the media, they agreed their friendship wasn't going to be affected and that Kaitlyn could speak freely on the topic.

ABC then asked Kaitlyn and Tayshia to act as "mentors" for Katie on The Bachelorette. (Kaitlyn joked that ABC called her and Tayshia "mentors" instead of co-hosts so that the network could pay them less money, and Chris said he believes the women had been "set up to fail.")

But headlines began emerging about how Kaitlyn and Tayshia were "taking over" and/or "replacing" Chris after he had worked on the show for nearly two decades, since The Bachelor premiered in 2002.


According to Kaitlyn, she reached out to Chris to talk about her The Bachelorette offer, but also to let him know that she thought he was "irreplaceable."

"So you texted me after you got the mentorship," Chris stated.

Kaitlyn claimed on the "Not Skinny But Not Fat" podcast that she had texted Chris "probably 10 times without him responding" in March 2021.

Kaitlyn also reiterated on Chris' podcast how she had "bombarded" Chris with text messages and received no response.

Chris, however, clarified how Kaitlyn was exaggerating, revealing, "Seven of [the messages] were just that day."

"And I'm not going to read them to you, but it was one of those things where she missed a word and she's like, 'Wait, I meant this, I meant this.' So it wasn't like you were hammering me with text messages, [saying] 'Call me, call me, call me.' It was really this one strain of thoughts that came out on one day," Chris recalled.

"And then I think a week later or so, you said, 'Hey if you get a chance, call me.' And so, there wasn't a 'ghosting.' I don't even know if you said I was ghosting you. I think that was just click bait."

But Chris insisted that as far as ghosting goes, "that wasn't the case at all."

"And it had nothing -- and I mean, nothing -- to do with you and Tayshia hosting the show," Chris stressed. "It had to do with the fact that I was going through something extraordinary... And I don't mean this in a condescending way, it had nothing to do with you or Tayshia."

Chris said "at that time" he "needed people" in his life to be "unconditionally loving and caring" towards him. He hoped people would reach out to check on him, his children, and his fiancee Lauren Zima without any other motive or intent.

"And you weren't equipped to do that because of where you were in all this," Chris noted.

Kaitlyn said it made sense to her, acknowledging that she had reached out to Chris as "the host of The Bachelor" rather than just as a friend or human being in the middle of a crisis.

"For 20 years, for Bachelors and Bachelorettes, I was the mentor -- somewhat of maybe a father figure -- where I listened and I asked questions, and I was all about you and your life, because that was my job and I cared," Chris explained.

"And I took a lot of pride in that and that's how our relationship started. At this time [during the controversy], I needed that flip of just the, 'Hey, how are you? Are you okay?' Not, 'Are you okay with me taking the show and you're irreplaceable.'"


Chris clarified that while he "appreciated" Kaitlyn's words, he "didn't have the bandwidth to deal with all of that."

"And by the way, I really and truly just wasn't worried at all about who was hosting and who was the next mentor and what the show was going to do," Chris said.

Kaitlyn, who previously admitted she had "balled" her eyes out over her falling out with Chris, pointed out how "perception is never the actual reality."

The Season 11 The Bachelorette star explained, "To me, I was like, 'I feel like I did reach out to you and I feel like I did reach out to Lauren.' And I feel like I cared so much, but I was also in such a weird position."

"And then I understand that you were also in a weird position," she elaborated.

"So when I didn't get a text message back, I was like, 'Okay, this is what it has to be. The relationship obviously has to change.' So then I feel like I wanted to continue to reach out and check in and talk, but then I felt like, 'Well, he's not ready to talk to me.'"

Kaitlyn, however, has come to the conclusion that Chris' behavior during that time had "nothing to do" with her.

Chris previously revealed that he was so depressed from the racism controversy that he couldn't eat and lost 20 pounds. He essentially became a shell of himself and had a lot of emotions and regrets to work through.

"I totally understand when you're going through something like that, you really have to take a look at your circle and who is in it and who is there for you... I totally get it," Kaitlyn shared.

Chris reiterated how he had "no hard feelings" toward Kaitlyn or Tayshia and was "in no way angry" when they had agreed to host The Bachelorette. In fact, Chris said he talked to Tayshia on the phone and said exactly that.

"I'm in no way bitter. I don't feel like you two stabbed me in the back," Chris insisted. "I would not expect either one of you to say, 'I love Chris, he's my friend. I'm turning down this job.'"

He added, "Why would you turn down that opportunity when this had nothing to do with you?"

Chris wrapped up his podcast by confirming of Kaitlyn, "We still very much care for each other, and we are still very much friends."

During Chris' February 2021 Extra interview, Chris had adopted a dismissive attitude towards photos of Rachael that resurfaced and were circulating online from an antebellum-plantation themed "Old South" fraternity party at Georgia College & State University in 2018.

Chris had called for "grace" and "compassion" for Rachael and also criticized the "woke police" and the "unbelievably alarming" response of anger and frustration to the young woman's actions.

Chris' strong defense of Rachael, who tearfully apologized for the racially-offensive photos, enraged many Bachelor Nation fans.

Chris therefore announced in February 2021 he'd be "stepping aside" from his hosting duties with The Bachelor franchise "for a period of time" to educate himself on racism in society in a "profound" and "productive" manner.

Chris issued a total of three public apologies for his offense, two on Instagram and then one verbal apology during a March 2021 appearance on Good Morning America.

On GMA at the time, Chris had said he hoped to come back to The Bachelor franchise, explaining, "This is a franchise that has been a part of my life for the better part of 20 years and I love it. I plan to be back and I want to be back."

Rachel even accepted Chris' apology in March 2021, but other people weren't so lenient.

Katie refused to star on Season 17 of The Bachelorette in March 2021 if Chris was going to participate, and several sources told E! News in April of that year that "many" The Bachelor and The Bachelorette alums from seasons past were "apprehensive" about signing up for Bachelor in Paradise 7 or even declined their invitations in the wake of Chris' racism controversy.

One insider told the website at the time, "A lot of people are removing themselves from the franchise."

When Chris publicly announced his voluntary leave of absence from The Bachelor franchise was going to become a permanent one, he wrote in a June 2021 statement on Instagram how he was "excited to start a new chapter" and "so grateful to Bachelor Nation for all of the memories."

But multiple sources told E! News in 2021 that Chris was "saddened" and "frustrated" about his The Bachelor departure, adding that the show was his "whole life" and he really wanted to come back.

Deadline reported in June 2021 that Chris, who began hosting The Bachelor franchise back in Season 1, which premiered in 2002, reached a mid-range eight-figure settlement with ABC to exit The Bachelor franchise for good.

But Variety subsequently reported Chris only received $9 million as his supposed payout.


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About The Author: Elizabeth Kwiatkowski
Elizabeth Kwiatkowski is Associate Editor of Reality TV World and has been covering the reality TV genre for more than a decade.