Days after Kaitlyn shared how she was ghosted by the former The Bachelor host after she was offered a co-hosting gig on the season 17 of The Bachelorette in 2021, Chris spoke out to address her comments. While joined by Kaitlyn on the Feb. 5 episode of his The Most Dramatic Podcast Ever With Chris Harrison podcast, the 51-year-old said that the Bachelor Nation star's remark "wasn't a cry for help, but I took it as a cry for something that she lost."
"Something that she was sad that she lost and that was our friendship," he continued. "And so, instead of getting mad, or even disappointed, which I'm not, I was saddened that a friend of mine was mourning the loss of our friendship and that that friendship had changed. And yes, to a certain degree, it did change."
Kaitlyn also clarified that she wasn't accusing Chris of deliberately ignoring her when she recounted the incident during the Jan. 31 appearance on Dear Media's Not Skinny But Not Fat podcast.
"I was just saying that you and I were so close and when everything went down…then I was like 'Oh my gosh, I need to talk to Chris,'" she explained. "That was my first reaction."
Prior to her hosting gig, ABC had cut ties with Chris—the longstanding host of the show—after he received backlash for defending Rachael Kirkconnell when photos surfaced of her attending a plantation-themed party.
Reflecting on the experience, Kaitlyn shared how "the benefit of hindsight" showed her that Chris' silence had "nothing to do with me."
"I was not thinking about what you could be going through," Kaitlyn continued. "It wasn't about me, you were going through so much at that time."
Acknowledging that Chris "probably didn't even know" what to say to her at that time, Kaitlyn added, "You're not like me. You react with logic. I react with emotion."
As for Chris, he noted how he just wanted a friend to check up on him at the time. Describing himself as a "father figure" to many of the people he met while hosting The Bachelor and The Bachelorette, Chris said, "This time, I needed that flip of just: ‘Hey, how are you? Are you OK?' Not, ‘Are you OK with me taking the show and you're irreplaceable.'"
Telling Kaitlyn that he "appreciated" her reaching out regardless, Chris added, "At that time, I didn't have the bandwidth to deal with all of that. By the way, I really, truly just wasn't worried at all about who was hosting and who was the next mentor or what the show was going to do."