Following backlash for defending current “Bachelor” contestant Rachael Kirkconnell, Chris Harrison says he will take some time away from the franchise.
“The historic season of The Bachelor should not be marred or overshadowed by my mistakes or diminished by my actions. 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,” Harrison wrote in a statement on Instagram Saturday.
His girlfriend, “Entertainment Tonight” correspondent Lauren Zima, who hosts the “Bachelor” recap show “Roses & Rosé,” condemned his controversial remarks later in the day.
“What Chris said was wrong and disappointing. Defending racism can never happen,” Zima wrote Saturday in an Instagram Story. “Accountability comes first, what’s next is learning and growth.”
The “Bachelor” host’s comments came a day after the first Black bachelorette of the franchise Rachel Lindsay called out Harrison during her “Higher Learning” podcast and revealed she’s not renewing her contract because she’s “had enough.”
During a recent interview with Lindsay on “Extra,” Harrison came to Kirkconnell’s defense saying “we need to have a little grace.” Kirkconnell was facing backlash for liking Confederate flag-related TikToks and, more recently, for a resurfaced photo that appears to show her attending a plantation-themed fraternity formal in 2018.
“I have spent the last few days listening to the pain my words have caused, and I am deeply remorseful…. By excusing historical racism, I defended it,” Harrison said referencing his interview with Lindsay which received criticism. “I invoked the term ‘woke police,’ which is unacceptable. I am ashamed over how uninformed I was. I was so wrong.”
The “Bachelor” host continued apologizing to the Black community and BIPOC for his harmful comments and thanked people from those communities who’ve engaged him in “enlightening conversations.”
Harrison ended his statement by promising he would do better.
“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 wrote. “From here I can only try to evolve and be a better man, and I humble myself before all of you. I will again live up to the expectations you all rightfully have for me and the expectations I have for myself.”
After Kirkconnell’s past came to light, the season 25 frontrunner apologized for her actions, which she condemned as “offensive and racist” in a statement on her Instagram Thursday.
“I was ignorant, but my ignorance was racist,” she wrote. “I am sorry to the communities and individuals that my actions harmed and offended. I am ashamed about my lack of education, but it is no one’s responsibility to educate me.”
USA TODAY has reached out to Warner Bros. for comment.
Contributing: Kim Willis
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