“Bachelor” franchise host Chris Harrison apologized on Wednesday for defending Season 25 contestant Rachael Kirkconnell “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,” Harrison wrote in a statement posted to Instagram. “I have this incredible platform to speak about love, and yesterday I took a stance on topics about 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.”
Harrison’s statement comes after he defended Kirkconnell — who is a frontrunner on Matt James’ currently airing season of “The Bachelor” and the first to feature a Black bachelor — for a resurfaced photo in which she appears to be attending a plantation-themed fraternity formal in 2018, and previously “liking” Confederate flag-related TikToks.
In his Wednesday remarks, Harrison also apologized directly to “Bachelorette” Rachel Lindsay, with whom he had done an ExtraTV interview on Tuesday in which he said there was need for “a little grace, a little understanding, a little compassion” in regards to Kirkconnell.
“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.”
Representatives for ‘The Bachelor” and ABC did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment Thursday.
James previously gave his own thoughts on criticism of Kirkconnell in an interview with Entertainment Tonight in early February, saying, “Rumors are dark and nasty and can ruin people’s lives. So I would give people the benefit of the doubt, and hopefully she will have her time to speak on that.”
Kirkconnell has not publicly responded to the controversy.