The long-time host of The Bachelor franchise is temporarily “stepping aside” after a trainwreck an interview in which he defended a contestant’s racist actions, which included attending a plantation-themed party in 2018.
In a statement posted to his Instagram page, Chris Harrison said he will not be present for the traditionally live “After the Final Rose” episode at the end of the current season. How long the hiatus will last and who will replace Harrison as host for “After the Final Rose” is unclear.
“The historic season of The Bachelor should not be marred or overshadowed by my mistakes or diminished by my actions,” Harrison wrote, referring to the season helmed by Matt James, the first Black lead in the history of The Bachelor. “I am dedicated to getting educated on a more profound and productive level than ever before.”
In recent days, it emerged that current contestant Rachael Kirkconnell had previously worn insensitive Halloween costumes and liked offensive social media posts—including one in which two people posed in front of a Confederate flag.
Harrison was questioned about Kirkconnell’s past during an interview on Extra earlier this week with Rachel Lindsay, the first Black lead in The Bachelorette and now a media personality. He declined to condemn her actions and event went on the attack on her behalf, saying, “The woke police is out there and this poor girl Rachael has just been thrown to the lions.”
“I hear this all the time... ‘I think he should, I think she should.’ Who the hell are you? Who are you that you demand this?” he added.
Fans became incensed after viewing the 14-minute exchange, and the entire cast of the current season released a statement in solidarity with Lindsay. The franchise has long been the subject of allegations of racism.
Kirkconnell, who is considered a front-runner on the season, later apologized. “At one point, I didn’t recognize how offensive and racist my actions were, but that doesn’t excuse them,” she said in a statement Thursday. “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.”