Chris Harrison "stepping aside" from 'The Bachelor' after continuing criticism of his defense of Rachael Kirkconnell's racist behavior
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 02/15/2021
Chris Harrison has announced he is "stepping aside" from his role as The Bachelor host "for a period of time" after "excusing historical racism" in a controversial interview he had with Extra'sRachel Lindsay and being subjected to heavy backlash.
"This historic season of The Bachelor should not be marred or overshadowed by my mistakes or diminished by my actions," Harrison wrote in a Saturday Instagram statement, referencing the show's currently airing 25th season in which Matt James is serving as the franchise's first Black Bachelor.
"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 [Season 25's] After the Final Rose special."
During his controversial interview with Lindsay, the first-ever Black The Bachelorette star, Harrison had lashed out at "the woke police" and expressed his belief that the public reaction to The Bachelor Season 25 bachelorette Rachael Kirkconnell's history of racist behavior was "unbelievably alarming."
Harrison first issued an apology on February 10, but it wasn't enough for many members of Bachelor Nation. Lindsay even publicly admitted she didn't think Harrison's apology was sincere and so she had a hard time accepting it.
Harrison therefore released a more extensive apology February 13 in which he revealed he won't be participating in the live portion of Matt'sThe Bachelor finale when it airs in March.
"I have spent the last few days listening to the pain my words have caused, and I am deeply remorseful. My ignorance did damage to my friends, colleagues and strangers alike. I have no one to blame but myself for what I said and the way I spoke," Harrison wrote in his second apology.
"I set standards for myself, and have not met them. I feel that with every fiber of my being. Now, just as I taught my children to stand up, and to own their actions, I will do the same."
"By excusing historical racism, I defended it. I invoked the term 'woke police,' which is unacceptable. I am ashamed over how uninformed I was. I was so wrong."
The longtime The Bachelor host continued, "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."
"I want to give my heartfelt thanks to the people from these communities who I've had enlightening conversations with over the past few days, and I am so grateful to those who have reached out to help me on my path to anti-racism."
After stating how he will be "stepping aside" for a while as The Bachelor host and not joining the After the Final Rose special, Harrison said he is "dedicated to getting educated on a more profound and productive level than ever before."
"I want to ensure our cast and crew members, to my friends, colleagues and our fans: this is not just a moment, but a commitment to much greater understanding that I will actively make every day," Harrison insisted.
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"From here I can only try to evolve and be a better man, and I humble myself before all of you. I hope I will again live up to the expectations you all rightfully have for me and the expectations I have for myself," he concluded.
In Harrison's first apology that he posted on Instagram last week in regards to his Extra interview with Lindsay, he told Bachelor Nation that his intentions were "simply to ask for grace in offering [Rachael] 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," Chris wrote at the time.
A fan later tweeted about the interview and wrote, "@TheRachLindsay is so generous and giving to this franchise. We do not deserve her."
The former attorney and Season 13 The Bachelorette star replied, "My days are numbered."
Lindsay went on to slam Harrison during a Friday, February 11 appearance on the Higher Learning podcast, according toUs Weekly.
"When I finished that interview with Chris Harrison, he had no problems with it. He was fine. He texted me after, he appreciated the conversation. He was like, 'Yeah, I'll probably get a little flack, but I thought it was great that we could disagree, but do it in a civil way,'" Lindsay shared with her podcast co-star Van Nathan.
Lindsay also reportedly indicated that she planned to leave The Bachelor franchise once her contractual obligations were met, adding, "I can't take it anymore."
Many cast members from The Bachelor franchise also took a stand against Harrison.
The Bachelor "Women of Season 25" posted the same statement on Instagram siding with Lindsay and denouncing racism.
And tens of thousands of people have called for Harrison's firing, including The Bachelor Season 21 alum Taylor Nolan, who created an online petition to remove the host from his position.
In Harrison and Lindsay's Extra interview, Harrison took a strong stance in Rachael's defense after the bachelorette had been accused of liking offensive and insensitive content on Instagram such as a friend standing in front of a house displaying the Confederate flag.
Rachael had also been accused of bullying a girl in high school for dating Black men, cultural appropriation, and attending an antebellum plantation-themed "Old South" fraternity formal with friends at Georgia College & State University in 2018.
"I haven't talked to Rachael about it. This is where we all need to have a little grace, a little understanding, a little compassion," Harrison began in the controversial interview.
"Because I have seen some stuff online -- this judge, jury, executioner thing where people are just tearing this girl's life apart and diving into her parents and her parents' voting record. It's unbelievably alarming to watch this."
In regards to the Old South party Rachael apparently attended, Harrison said, "I saw a picture of her at a sorority party five years ago and that's it. Like, boom."
In response to Harrison, Lindsay countered, "The picture was from 2018 at an Old South antebellum party. That's not a good look. It's not a good look."
"Well, Rachel, is it a good look in 2018 or, is it not a good look in 2021?" Harrison argued. "Because there's a big difference."
"It's not a good look EVER," Lindsay insisted. "She is celebrating the Old South. If I went to that party, what would I represent at that party?"
Lindsay criticized Rachael for waiting six weeks to break her silence on the allegations that had been attached to her ever since The Bachelor's 25th season premiered in early January, but Harrison said Rachael was not dealing with "reasonable people" on social media and wouldn't be able to "please everybody" with a statement, regardless of how eloquent it may be.
Rachael did, in fact, issue an apology of her own on Thursday, February 11 on Instagram, just two short days after Extra published Harrison's interview.
"At one point, I didn't recognize how offensive and racist my actions were, but that doesn't excuse them. My age or when it happened does not excuse anything. They are not acceptable or okay in any sense. I was ignorant, but my ignorance was racist," Rachael wrote.
"I am sorry to the communities and individuals that my actions harmed and offended. I am ashamed about my lack of education, but it is no one's responsibility to educate me. I am learning and will continue to learn how to be antiracist."
To read Matt's opinion on the allegations against Rachael, click here.