Chris Harrison has been the longtime host of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette on ABC since the show’s debut in 2002. Now, after a recent controversy, he has decided to step away from the series “for a period of time,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.
- Chris Harrison, the host of both The Bachelor and The Bachelorette on ABC for the entire length of their run since the franchise launched nearly 20 years ago in 2002, is stepping down “for a period of time” from his hosting duties after receiving backlash for comments made during a recent interview on Extra.
- In a post he made on his personal Instagram (below), Harrison apologizes for actions (or lack thereof) that he took during the interview while simultaneously announcing that he will be stepping down from hosting the show, but did not say specifically when he will return, adding that he will not be present for the usual After the Final Rose special.
- The whole situation began several days ago, when one of the frontrunners of the current season of The Bachelor, (featuring the first Black Bachelor, Matt James) Rachaell Kirkconnell, found herself in the middle of a social media controversy as she allegedly “liked” posts prominently featuring the confederate flag, sharing QAnon theories, and a resurfaced photo of her attending an "Old South" plantation-themed college party at Georgia College & State University in 2018 began to circulate.
- When Rachel Lindsay, the former Bachelorette contestant (and the first Black Bachelorette) who is now a correspondent on Extra, asked Harrison what his thoughts on the situation were, as well as why the franchise and Kirkconnell herself had yet to speak on the issue, the situation quickly escalated. Harrison asked for viewers to give Kirkconnell "a little grace, a little understanding, [and] a little compassion."
- When Harrison went on to comment regarding the “Old South” party is when the situation devolved and he found himself in the middle of the controversy as well, responding to Lindsay’s comment “[it’s] not a good look,” Harrison said "Well, Rachel, is it a good look in 2018, or is it not a good look in 2021? Because there’s a big difference."
- Lindsay quickly replied, "It’s not a good look EVER. Because she’s celebrating the Old South. If I went to that party, what would I represent at that party?" Harrison said Lindsay was "100 percent right in 2021," but added, "That was not the case in 2018. 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. Where is this lens we’re holding up and was this lens available, and were we all looking through it in 2018?" Lindsay agreed that "we weren't and we should have been," but also challenged why Kirkconnell hasn't spoken out and offered any clarity if there's "nothing that contractually stops her from saying, 'Hey, this isn't true.'"
- Lindsay went on to add that the issue is particularly troublesome because Matt James, whom she is competing for the heart of, is Black, saying "So I think people have the question of, will the franchise speak out and say something? Will she come out and say something? And then you have another level of the fact that she’s dating a Black man. And it adds more complexity to it."
- Harrison received backlash for not denouncing the racism, and though saying “I’m not defending Rachael” he simultaneously seemed to defend her actions. Lindsay even commented after the interview on Extra, "I already said I was going to leave if they didn't have more leads of color. Ok, they did that and they made some other changes. They hired a diversity consultant. Who didn't attend the class? Did Chris Harrison not sit through that? I'm confused as to how you could have [consultants] working for you, yet what just happened, happens. So, are people going through training? Are they learning things? Or are they just being protected from what we just saw this week?" Harrison took to his Instagram (below) and issued his apology, saying that he “will always own a mistake when I make one, so I am here to extend an apology,” adding “I also apologize to my friend Rachel Lindsay for not listening to her better on a topic she has a first-hand understand of.”
- Tayshia Adams, who became the primary focus of the last season of The Bachelorette mid-season, said of Harrison and the franchise, "I am really hurt and disappointed and confused at the ignorance when it comes to race. The things that have come to light within the Bachelor franchise this past week have just been eye-opening. And I want to talk about the interview that was had between Rachel Lindsay and Chris Harrison regarding some of the actions from a current contestant, Rachael Kirkconnell. The photo that she was in is racist. The party that she attended: racist. Her actions have been racist. When there are blatant forms of racist acts, you cannot be defensive of it. It speaks volumes. And I just have to say, I am really hurt by this response. I just really hope that in regards to change and trying to do better that every positive step isn't met with two steps back, because that's how it feels like it's going. And it does not feel good.”
- Harrison said in his announcement this morning that he would be leaving the show, "This historic season of The Bachelor should not be marred or overshadowed by my mistakes or diminished by my actions. I am dedicated to getting educated on a more profound and productive level than ever before. 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."
- Harrison will be present for the remainder of the season that has been taped already, including the Ladies Tell All special, but he will not be present at the live After the Final Rose special.
- Meanwhile, Rachael Kirkconnell is considered a frontrunner to win the show, and reportedly was NOT present at the taping of Ladies Tell All special, a special featuring prominent contestants who didn’t make it to those final rose ceremonies, suggesting that she becomes a finalist in the show.
- Harrison did not specify when he will return to the hit franchise, only that it will be after “a period of time.”