The Bachelor Host Chris Harrison Stands Down from TV Special and Says He Is ‘Deeply Remorseful’ for ‘Excusing Historical Racism’
Rachel Sharp, Daily Mail, February 13, 2021
The Bachelor host Chris Harrison has announced he will no longer appear in the TV special and said he is ‘deeply remorseful’ for ‘excusing historical racism’ after he defended a contestant who attended a plantation-themed ball.
Harrison, who has hosted the ABC reality television dating show since 2002, issued a statement on his Instagram Saturday saying he is ‘ashamed’ of the ‘pain’ he has caused to people of color and that he is committed to ‘evolve and be a better man.’
He will also be ‘stepping aside’ from the show and will not feature in the After the Final Rose special due to air after the season finale, he said.
The 49-year-old’s future on the show is unclear as calls grow for his firing over the race row which erupted over his defense of contestant Rachael Kirkconnell’s past allegedly racist behavior.
Harrison said in a controversial interview with former Bachelorette star Rachel Lindsay that people should show ‘compassion’ toward Kirkconnell, despite photos surfacing of her at a plantation-themed party and her liking photos on social media of the Confederate flag.
Harrison did not Saturday detail how long his break from the show will be only that it will be a ‘period of time’.
It is not yet clear if has been suspended or who will take over a host for the special.
ABC did not immediately respond to DailyMail.com’s request for comment.
‘I have spent the last few days listening to the pain my words have caused, and I am deeply remorseful,’ Harrison wrote in the long Instagram post.
‘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.
‘By excusing historical racism, I defended it. I invoked the term ‘woke police,’ which is unacceptable. I am ashamed over how uniformed I was. I was so wrong.’
Harrison apologized to the BIPOC community for his ‘harmful’ words and thanked people who had held ‘enlightening conversations’ with him on his ‘path to anti-racism.’
‘To the Black community, to the BIPOC community: I am so sorry. My words were harmful. I am listening, and I truly apologize for my ignorance and any pain it caused you,’ he wrote.
‘I want to give my heartfelt thanks to the people from these communities who I’ve had enlightening conversations with over the past few days, and I am so grateful to those who have reached out to help me on my path to anti-racism.’
Harrison said he was ‘stepping aside’ after consulting with Warner Bros. and ABC.
‘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,’ he wrote.
‘I am dedicated to getting educated on a more profound and productive level than ever before.’
His announcement comes two days after he posted a statement apologizing for his comments over the racial controversy.
‘To my Bachelor Nation family – I will always own a mistake when I make one, so I am here to extend a sincere apology,’ Harrison wrote Thursday.
‘I have this incredible platform to speak about love, and yesterday I took a stance on topics about which I should have been better informed.’
He sought to clarify his comments about Kirkconnell saying ‘my intentions were simply to ask for grace in offering her an opportunity to speak on her own behalf.’
‘What I now realize I have done is cause harm by wrongly speaking in a manner that perpetuates racism, and for that I am so deeply sorry,’ he added.
Harrison continued by apologizing to Lindsay, who was the first black lead on the show, for ‘not listening’ to her ‘on a topic she has a first-hand understanding of’
‘I promise to do better,’ he wrote.
The race row erupted when photos surfaced of current contestant Kirkconnell at an ‘Old South’ plantation-themed frat formal in 2018.
The contestant is also said to have liked racially sensitive content on social media including a photo of two women posing in front a Confederate flag.
Harrison appeared to defend Kirkconnell in a car-crash interview with James in which he urged for people to show the contestant ‘compassion’ and hit out at the ‘woke police’.
‘Is it [not] a good look in 2018? Or is it not a good look in 2021? Because there’s a big difference,’ Harrison said in the 14-minute discussion on Tuesday.
‘The woke police is out there. And this poor girl Rachael, who has just been thrown to the lions, I don’t know how you are equipped when you have never done this before, to be woke enough, to be eloquent enough, to be ready to handle this.’
He called on people to ‘have a little grace, a little understanding, a little compassion’.
‘Because I’ve seen some stuff online… again, this ‘judge, jury, executioner’ thing where people are just tearing this girl’s life apart,’ he added.
His comments sparked outrage from a group of 25 contestants in the current series who issued a joint statement saying they were ‘deeply disappointed’ by Harrison’s remarks.
‘We are the women of Bachelor Season 25. Twenty-five women who identify as BIPOC were cast on this historic season that was meant to represent change.
‘We are deeply disappointed and want to make it clear that we denounce any defense of racism.
‘Any defense of racist behavior denies the lived and continued experiences of BIPOC individuals. These experiences are not to be exploited or tokenized,’ the group said.
Fans took to social media to call for Harrison’s firing while Lindsay said she will not renew her contract with Warner Bros. – the studio behind the franchise.