Bachelor Nation stars are speaking out about Chris Harrison's temporary departure from the hit ABC franchise and apology for "excusing historical racism."
On Saturday, Feb. 13, the longtime host announced on Instagram that he is "stepping aside" from the shows for "a period of time" amid backlash over his initial refusal to denounce The Bachelor contestant Rachael Kirkconnell.
She stirred controversy over recently leaked 2018 photos that showed her at an antebellum plantation-themed fraternity formal. She later apologized for her "offensive and racist" actions.
Harrison made his controversial comments earlier this week in an Extra interview with former The Bachelorette's Rachel Lindsay, who in 2017 became the first Black leading star of the franchise. He said that while he was "not defending" Kirkconnell over her attendance at the formal, he insisted that "50 million people did that in 2018. That was a type of party that a lot of people went to." He also added, "The woke police is out there," and expressed sympathy for "poor girl Rachael."
Following a backlash over his interview, including from many Bachelor Nation stars, Harrison issued an apology, saying, "What I now realize I have done is cause harm by wrongly speaking in a manner that perpetuates racism." But the backlash on social media continued, and a petition was also launched to push for him to be fired from the hosting job he's held since The Bachelor debuted in 2002.
In his statement announcing his temporary departure from the franchise on Saturday, Harrison wrote, "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."
A source tells E! News, "[Chris] will also 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."
Read Bachelor Nation stars' responses to his latest statement and the entire controversy:
—Additional reporting by Mike Vulpo