Chris Harrison says he plans to return to his hosting duties for ABC’s “The Bachelor” franchise in his first interview since stepping aside from his longtime role.
On Thursday, “Good Morning America” aired Michael Strahan’s interview with Harrison in which he voiced his regret for defending current “Bachelor” contestant Rachael Kirkconnell after photos resurfaced of her attending an “Old South” themed party at a plantation in 2018.
“I am an imperfect man. I made a mistake and I own that. I believe that mistake doesn’t reflect who I am or what I stand for. I am committed to the progress, not just for myself, also for the franchise,” Harrison said when asked why he defended Kirkconnell last month.
Harrison now says antebellum parties “are not ok [in the] past, present, future.
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“Knowing what that represents is unacceptable,” Harrison added.
The longtime host said he’s surprised by his own behavior and for how he treated past “Bachelorette” star Rachel Lindsay. It was Harrison’s words to Lindsay during an “Extra” interview last month that resulted in his racism controversy.
“I am saddened and shocked at how insensitive I was in that interview with Rachel Lindsay and I didn’t speak from my heart and that is to say I stand against all forms of racism and I am deeply sorry. I’m sorry to Rachel Lindsay and I’m sorry to the Black community,” Harrison added.
Earlier this week, Lindsay disabled her account due to intense backlash and online bullying she received since her interview with Harrison went viral. Harrison revealed Thursday he has not communicated with Lindsay since she deactivated her account, but did speak with her initially to apologize.
“I want to do so again,” Harrison said of apologizing to Lindsay. “To anyone who is throwing hate towards Rachel Lindsay, please stop. It is unacceptable.”
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Harrison went on to note that he doesn’t consider himself a victim in the situation.
“I am not a victim here. I made a mistake and I own that. Racism, oppression, these are big, dynamic problems and they take serious work and I am committed to that work,” Harrison said.
He’s since been speaking with a “race educator and strategist” as well as Dr. Michael Eric Dyson.
“Dr. Dyson often talks to me about counsel not cancel, and that is full accountability,” he said. “Understanding what you didn’t understand, owning that, learning from that, seeking counsel often in the community that you hurt, learning from them, listening, gaining experience, knowledge and moving forward.”
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Asked if he believes he’s the “right” person to continue the role as the “Bachelor” host, Harrison shared his hope — and plans — to return.
“I plan to be back and I want to be back. This interview is not the finish line. There is much more work to be done and I am excited to be a part of that change,” Harrison said.
After the pre-taped interview aired on Thursday, Strahan told his co-hosts he wasn’t exactly sure Harrison’s responses were heartfelt.
“I felt like I got nothing more than a surface response on any of this,” Strahan said. “Only time will tell if there is any meaning behind his words.”
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In the “Extra” interview last month, Harrison and Lindsay debated the gravity of Kirkconnell’s photos, and during the conversation, he asked for “a little grace, a little understanding, a little compassion” for the contestant and implied that many people went to such parties celebrating the “Old South” in 2018.
Shortly after he took to Instagram with an apology.
“I have spent the last few days listening to the pain my words have caused, and I am deeply remorseful. 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,” he wrote in a lengthy statement shared on Instagram at the time.
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His statement continued: “I set standards for myself, and have not met them. 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.”
The network has announced that author and TV personality Emmanuel Acho will take over hosting duties for the time being. It is unclear when Harrison will return and whether he will return to any “Bachelor” spin-offs — which include “The Bachelorette,” “Bachelor in Paradise” and “The Bachelor Presents: Listen to Your Heart.”
Fox News’ Nate Day contributed to this report.