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‘The Bachelor’ host Chris Harrison to leave show for ‘period of time’
Chris Harrison announced that he will take time away from hosting “The Bachelor” amid recent controversial remarks.
USA TODAY, Wochit
Chris Harrison will not step down permanently from “The Bachelor,” which he has hosted for nearly two decades since its 2002 debut.
During an interview with “Good Morning America” co-anchor Michael Strahan, Harrison admitted it was “a mistake” to defend current “Bachelor” contestant Rachael Kirkconnell’s past racially insensitive behavior.
“I made a mistake,” Harrison said on ABC Thursday morning. “I am an imperfect man. I made a mistake and I own that.”
But the longtime host says he does not plan to permanently leave his job.
“I plan to be back and I want to be back,” he said. “This interview is not the finish line. There is much more work to be done and I am excited to be part of that change.”
Harrison added that he doesn’t believe “that mistake” reflects who I am or what I stand for” and promised he’s “committed to the progress not just for myself, but for the franchise.” He said he has been working on full accountability (“counsel, not cancel”) with a race educator and strategist, faith leaders and scholars.
“I am not a victim here,” Harrison added. “I made a mistake and I own that. Racism, oppression, these are big, dynamic problems and they take serious work. And I am committed to that work.”
Kirkconnell is one of the finalists on the current season of “The Bachelor,” which stars the franchise’s first male Black lead, Matt James. However, Kirkconnell has come under fire for liking Confederate flag-related TikToks and, more recently, for a resurfaced photo that appears to show her attending a plantation-themed fraternity formal in 2018.
Harrison faced widespread backlash for defending Kirkconnell from the “woke police” during a Feb. 9 interview with Rachel Lindsay, the first Black lead on “The Bachelorette.” The reality host repeatedly talked over Lindsay and suggested Kirkconnell was a victim.
“We all need to have a little grace… Because I’ve seen some stuff online, again this judge-jury-executioner thing, where people are just tearing this girl’s life apart,” Harrison said during the interview. “I’m not defending Rachael. I just know that, I don’t know, 50 million people did that in 2018. That was a type of party that a lot of people went to.”
Harrison continued: “The woke police is out there. And this poor girl Rachael, who has just been thrown to the lions, I don’t know how you are equipped when you have never done this before, to be woke enough, to be eloquent enough, to be ready to handle this.”
Lindsay deactivated her Instagram account last week after facing “rude, hateful backlash,” her podcast co-host Van Lathan said. Harrison called on “anyone throwing hate” to Lindsay to “please stop.”
“I am saddened and shocked at how insensitive I was in that interview and I didn’t speak from my heart,” Harrison told Strahan. “That is to say I stand against all forms of racism and I am deeply sorry. I’m sorry to Rachel Lindsay and I’m sorry to the Black community.”
He added: “Antebellum parties are not OK, past, present, future.”
Harrison apologized on his Instagram account Feb. 10 for “wrongly speaking in a manner that perpetuates racism.” He apologized again on Feb. 13 for “excusing historical racism” and announced that he will take some time away from the franchise. “The historic season of The Bachelor should not be marred or overshadowed by my mistakes or diminished by my actions,” Harrison wrote. “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.”
Author and TV host Emmanuel Acho is set to take Harrison’s place for the one-hour special scheduled to air March 15, immediately following the show’s season finale.
On Feb. 11, Kirkconnell apologized for her “offensive and racist” actions. She spoke out further on Feb. 25, saying “sitting aside and hiding in the corner” doesn’t “help anyone.”
“This entire movement and where we are in this country, it’s just so much bigger than this, and I want and need to use my privilege and my platform that I so do not deserve just to shine a light on these issues and try to do what I can to take a step in the right direction,” she said in an Instagram video.
James spoke out for the first time on Instagram Feb. 22, calling the ABC franchise’s latest racism controversy “devastating” and “a clear reflection of a much larger issue.”
He said viewers will “hear more from me” on the matter after he’s had more time to “process this experience.” He added, “My greatest prayer is that this is an inflection point that results in real and institutional change for the better.”
James’ final three include Kirkconnell, Bri Springs and Michelle Young.
Contributing: Elise Brisco
‘Bachelor’ Matt James breaks silence, calls latest racism controversy a ‘much larger issue’