Last week was a whirlwind for The Bachelor franchise. Over the years, the franchise has come under fire quite a few times for its lack of diversity and mishandling of racial issues. But never has the drama gotten so big that it threatened host Chris Harrison’s job… until now. Recently, it was announced that Harrison would be stepping down and taking a break from The Bachelor. But how long will the star be gone?
Chris Harrison interview
This is the first season of The Bachelor with a Black male lead so when fans discovered that contestant Rachael Kirkconnell had more than a few instances of being racist in her past, they were concerned. Pictures of Kirkconnell at an Old South party began to surface, yet Kirkconnell remained silent. In an interview with former Bachelorette Rachel Lindsay, Harrison made the situation 100 times worse.
“I haven’t talked to Rachael about it,” he told Lindsay. “And this is, again, where we all need 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 and diving into, like, her parents and her parents’ voting record. It’s unbelievably alarming to watch this. I haven’t heard Rachael speak on this yet. And until I actually hear this woman have a chance to speak, who am I to say any of this?”
When the topic of the photo came up, Harrison dismissed it.
“I saw a picture of her at a sorority party five years ago and that’s it. Like, boom. Like, ‘OK. Well, this girl is in this book now. And she’s now in this group,’” he said. “I’m like, ‘Really?’”
Lindsay tried to remind Harrison that the photo was not from five years ago, as it was taken in 2018, and that regardless of the time, being at an Old South party was not “a good look.”
“Well, Rachel is it a good look in 2018? Or, is it not a good look in 2021?” he responded. “Because there’s a big difference.”
Chris Harrison apologizes after fan backlash
After the interview aired, fans were immediately upset, some even called for Harrison to be fired. He later tweeted out an apology.
“To my Bachelor Nation family — I will always own a mistake when I make one, so I am here to extend a sincere apology,” he wrote. “While I do not speak for Rachael Kirkconnell, 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.”
When will Chris Harrison return to ‘The Bachelor’?
Harrison’s apology seemed to be just a little too late as people were still relentless in asking that Harrison be held accountable for trying to excuse racism. It was eventually announced that Harrison would be stepping down from his host role and taking a break from the show.
“This historic season of ‘The Bachelor’ should not be marred or overshadowed by my mistakes or diminished by my actions,” the host said in an Instagram post. “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 did not elaborate on when he will be back as The Bachelorette is usually shot right after The Bachelor, so it is unclear whether he will continue his hiatus through The Bachelorette or just miss out on the “After the Final Rose” special.