Chris Harrison says he is temporarily “stepping aside” as host of “The Bachelor” after excusing a contestant’s racial insensitivity on social media.
“Just as I taught my children to stand up, and to own their actions, I will do the same,” Harrison said in a statement posted on Instagram Saturday.
Harrison’s statement comes three days after he defended Rachael Kirkconnell — a frontrunner on Matt James’ current 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 posts where she shared QAnon conspiracy theories and “liked” Confederate flag-related TikToks.
“The 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,” Harrison said. “I am dedicated to getting educated on a more profound and productive level than ever before.”
In his Wednesday remarks, Harrison also apologized directly to “Bachelorette” Rachel Lindsay, whom he told in an ExtraTV interview on Tuesday that there was a 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,” he said.
James previously gave his own thoughts on the 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.
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