Chris Harrison Is "Stepping Aside" From Bachelor Franchise After "Excusing Historical Racism"

Chris Harrison said he is temporarily stepping back from Bachelor Nation and "will not join for the 'After the Final Rose' special" after receiving backlash for defending Rachael Kirkconnell.

By Alyssa Morin Feb 13, 2021 8:10 PMTags
Watch: Chris Harrison "Stepping Aside" From "Bachelor" After Racism Controversy

Chris Harrison is issuing another apology.

After taking some time to reflect on his controversial comments about Bachelor contestant Rachael Kirkconnell, the ABC host took to Instagram on Saturday, Feb. 13 to acknowledge his actions and address the backlash he's received.

"Hello everyone, I have spent the last few days listening to the pain my words have caused, and I am deeply remorseful," Chris began his caption. "My ignorance did damage to my friends, colleagues and strangers alike. I have no one to blame but myself for what I said and the way I spoke."

"I set standards for myself, and have not met them," he continued. "I feel that with every fiber of my being. Now, just as I taught my children to stand up, and to own their actions, I will do the same. By excusing historical racism, I defended it. I invoked the term 'woke police,' which is unacceptable. I am ashamed over how uninformed I was. I was so wrong."

Bachelor Nation Reacts to Chris Harrison Controversy

Chris then spoke to the people he directly hurt, writing, "To the Black community, to the BIPOC community: I am so sorry. My words were harmful. I am listening, and I truly apologize for my ignorance and any pain it caused you."

"I want to give my heartfelt thanks to the people from these communities who I've had the enlightening conversations with over the past few days," he noted, "and I am so grateful to those who have reached out to help me on my path to anti-racism."

Rick Rowell/ABC

The Bachelor Nation star, who has been hosting Matt James' season of The Bachelor, said that after much reflection, he will temporarily take a step back from the franchise.

"The historic season of The Bachelor should not be marred or overshadowed by my mistakes or diminished by my actions," he shared. "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."

A source tells E! News, "[Chris] will appear at Women Tell All episode on March 1, which was pre-taped earlier this month in Los Angeles. The After the Final Rose special has not yet filmed, and additional details will be shared at a later date."

It's unclear if anyone will replace Chris for The Bachelor special. It's also unknown how long his exit will be for.

The 49-year-old host also explained that he's using this time to learn and grow from his mistakes.

"I am dedicated to getting educated on a more profound and productive level than ever before," he explained. "I want to ensure our cast and crew members, to my friends, colleagues and our fans: this is not just a moment, but a commitment to much greater understanding that I will actively make every day."

"From here I can only try to evolve and be a better man," he added, "and I humble myself before all of you. I hope I will again live up to the expectations you all rightfully have for me and the expectations I have for myself."

Chris came under fire earlier this week after defending the controversy surrounding Rachael Kirkconnell's social media.

For some backstory, The Bachelor contestant, who is still in the running to win over Matt's heart, received criticism after photos from her college days resurfaced on Reddit. In the images, which E! News hasn't verified, Rachael was seen attending a fraternity formal in 2018, which the Redditor described as an "antebellum plantation themed ball."

Following the resurfaced pictures, many discussed Rachael's participation and alleged social media behavior, in which a TikTok user previously accused the reality TV star of bullying her in high school.

On Feb. 9, Chris then shared his thoughts over the situation when speaking to Rachel Lindsay, the franchise's first Black Bachelorette, on Extra.

ABC/Craig Sjodin, Evan Agostini/Invision/AP/Shutterstock, ABC/Craig Sjodin

"First and foremost, I don't know. I haven't talked to Rachael about it," Chris responded when asked about Rachael's backlash. "And this is, again, where we all need to have a little grace, a little understanding, a little compassion. Because I've seen some stuff online—again this judge-jury-executioner thing—where people are just tearing this girl's life apart and diving into, like, her parents and her parents' voting record. It's unbelievably alarming to watch this. I haven't heard Rachael speak on this yet. And until I actually hear this woman have a chance to speak, who am I to say any of this?"

Referencing Rachael's fraternity formal pictures, Chris said, "I saw a picture of her at a sorority party five years ago and that's it. Like, boom. Like, 'OK. Well, this girl is in this book now. And she's now in this group,'" he said. "I'm like, 'Really?'"

When the former Bachelorette star reminded Chris that "the picture was from 2018 at an Old South antebellum party" and was "not a good look," the host hit back, "Well, Rachel is it a good look in 2018? Or, is it not a good look in 2021? Because there's a big difference."

Rachel responded, "It's not a good look ever... she's celebrating the Old South. If I went to that party, what would I represent at that party?"

While Chris admitted he wasn't "defending Rachael," he noted, "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. And again, I'm not defending it; I didn't go to it."

ABC/Craig Sjodin

Following the host's comments, which you can read in full here, many Bachelor Nation stars made it clear they "denounce any defense of racism." Moreover, Rachael herself issued a statement and addressed her past actions, saying, "At one point, I didn't recognize how offensive and racist my actions were, but that doesn't excuse them. 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."

You can read Rachael's full apology here and see which Bachelor Nation stars have spoken out here.

Additionally, Chris apologized for the comments he made during his Extra interview.

"To my Bachelor Nation family—I will always own a mistake when I make one, so I am here to extend a sincere apology," he wrote on Feb. 10. "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," he continued. "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."

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