‘Bachelor’ host Chris Harrison announces he’s ‘stepping aside for a period of time’ amid racial controversy

Muri Assunção, New York Daily News
·3 min read

Will you accept this apology?

The host of ABC’s “The Bachelor” announced Saturday he’d be “stepping aside” from the hit reality dating show after some of his comments during a recent interview prompted a widespread backlash among viewers.

Harrison, who’s been the host of the show and its spin-offs since 2002, said that he consulted with the franchise’s executives and decided to take a break from hosting the show, effective immediately.

“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,” Harrison, 49, wrote in a lengthy post shared on Instagram.

“I set standards for myself, and have to meet 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,” he continued, announcing his decision.

“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,” he added.

The controversy began with Rachel Kirkconnell, a contestant on the currently airing season of “The Bachelor,” who was criticized for recently unearthed photos that showed her dressed in Native American attire.

Kirkconnell has since apologized, but when Harrison spoke about the incident with former “Bachelorette” Rachel Lindsay during an Extra interview on Tuesday, he seemed to defend Kirkconnell against what he referred to as “woke police” on social media.

During a 14-minute discussion with Lindsay — who became the first Black “Bachelorette” in 2017 — Harrison said that people should have “a little grace, a little understanding, a little compassion” for Kirkconnell.

His comments prompted calls for his removal of the show, as outraged social media users inundated their feeds with their grievances.

An online petition complaining about Harrison’s “history of misogyny and racist behavior and racist-sympathizing behavior” has collected more than 48,000 signatures as of Saturday afternoon.

On Wednesday Harrison posted his first mea-culpa statement, apologizing for “wrongly speaking in a manner that perpetuates racism.”

Many viewers felt that the statement didn’t “actually address the many ways you were offensive, it is weak and lacking,” as one Instagram user wrote.

On Saturday, Harrison spoke directly to “the Black community, to the BIPOC community.”

“I am so sorry,” he wrote. “My words were harmful. I am listening, and I truly apologize for my ignorance and any pain it caused you,” he added. “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.”

“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.

“From here I can only try to evolve and be a better man, and I humble myself before all of you. I hope I will again live up to the expectations you all rightfully have for me and the expectations I have for myself,” he concluded.