Ben, who starred on Season 20 ofThe Bachelor, says he considers Chris not just an acquaintance but a sincere friend and the longtime The Bachelor host's racism controversy has been difficult to witness.
"[Chris] has been a friend of mine for six years now. It's not like we see each other on a show. He's a huge part of my life," Ben shared.
"As somebody who sits in a place as a friend of his and also I consider Rachel Lindsay a friend of mine so in the midst of this conversation they were having it's a really weird place to sit."
Chris has made three public apologies since last month, one of which announced he'd be "stepping aside" from his hosting duties "for a period of time" in order to educate himself on historical racism and wokeness on a "profound" and "productive" level.
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"What Chris said was not helpful but yet he's a friend and I want to see him grow and I want to see him be loved because I think that's what friends should do for each other," Ben said.
"But at the same time I'm sitting here saying what is being said is something that needs to be confronted."
During Chris' Extra interview with Rachel, who starred on The Bachelorette's thirteenth season, Chris asked 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, which included posing in photos at an antebellum-plantation themed "Old South" fraternity party at Georgia College & State University in 2018.
"These are things that are not okay," Ben told CNN. "We have to work towards racial reconciliation, we have to work for racial justice, we have to bring up these topics so that we can become educated."
Ben is also apparently disappointed with the lack of diversity in The Bachelor franchise as a whole.
The Bachelor premiered in 2002 and waited until its 25th season to cast a leading man of color, Matt James, and Ben said he's been hoping to see growth "for years."
"You'd hope to see progress. You'd hope to see the show continue to get better. This is a massive moment where it feels like there's a reckoning, it feels like now there's almost a forced hand and I wish it could have been different," Ben admitted.
"I wish it could have been something the show did years before... I would hope the show would want to be better, get better for everybody. For the viewers, for themselves for the culture for the contestants. So that we can proud of this maybe again."
"Chris has outlined in his statement that he's committed to putting in the work and he's taking a step back, so I respect that, and I hope that he does," Matt said during a recent appearance on The Bill Simmons Podcast.
"I don't think that anybody should be trying to cancel him. We should be calling him in to do that work that he's outlined that he wants to do. He's taking a step back and committed to doing that. So, I look forward to seeing him doing that."
And Emmanuel told Extra of Chris, "People need to give him the opportunity, the grace, and the time to do the work. And then they need to receive the work that he does."
A source previously told OK! Weekly that The Bachelor producers have been "getting clobbered with calls for Chris' removal as host and they are weighing that option."
Many The Bachelor fans, however, are still standing behind Chris and rallying for him to stay on the show, and Chris announced in early March on Good Morning America that he wants to continue being the face of the franchise.
"I plan to be back and I want to be back," Chris told GMA co-host Michael Strahan. "This interview is not the finish line. There is much more work to be done, and I am excited to be a part of that change."
In the meantime, Chris has retained Los Angeles entertainment litigator Bryan Freedman, according to The New York Post's Page Six.
"Chris has had a spotless record for 20 years... He has always been the good company man, but, after the way he's been treated by producers and executives over the past couple of weeks, he's run out of cheeks to turn," a Chris friend told Page Six.
Although it remains to be seen what legal action Chris may be exploring, the friend explained, "Now he's ready to tell the truth about how things really work over there -- and he has plenty of evidence to back him up."
Chris previously insisted in his GMA interview that he had made "a mistake" in trying to defend Rachael this past The Bachelor season and is "an imperfect man."
"I believe that mistake doesn't reflect who I am or what I stand for. I am committed to the progress, not just for myself but also for the franchise," Chris told Michael Strahan.
"Racism, oppression, these are big, dynamic problems and they take serious work, and I am committed to that work."
Chris also denounced bullying and harassment directed towards Rachel in the aftermath of their Extra interview given the formerThe Bachelorette star felt the need to delete her Instagram account.
In addition, Chris revealed he's been working closely with "a race educator and strategist" along with faith leaders and scholars like Dr. Michael Eric Dyson.
"Dr. Dyson often talks to me about counsel, not cancel. And that is full accountability: understanding what you didn't understand, owning that, learning from that, seeking council from the community that you hurt, learning from them and listening, gaining experience and knowledge and moving forward," Chris shared.
After the segment aired, Michael vented on GMA of Chris, "His apology is his apology, but it felt like I got nothing more than a surface response on any of this. I mean obviously, he's a man who wants to clearly stay on this show."
Michael added, "But only time will tell if there is any meaning behind his words."