Chris Harrison announced on Saturday that he is “stepping aside” from “The Bachelor” for “a period of time” after defending current season frontrunner, Rachael Kirkconnell. Rachael was hit by controversy, after past social media photos resurfaced.
“This historic season of ‘The Bachelor’ should not be marred or overshadowed by my mistakes or diminished by my actions,” the longtime host and producer wrote on Instagram.
“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 added.
The current season of the hit ABC dating series has featured the first Black man, Matt James, in the starring role.
Harrison offered an apology on Wednesday after defending Rachael, a contestant who was reportedly snapped at an antebellum plantation-themed fraternity event, in 2018.
Harrison said that he was “deeply remorseful” for the pain and damage his “ignorance” had brought to his “friends, colleagues and strangers alike,” in the weekend post.
“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,” Harrison 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,” he added.
Rachael spoke out in an Instagram Story, Thursday night.
She wrote that “her ignorance was racist” and that she “didn’t recognize how offensive and racist my actions were, but that doesn’t excuse them.”
She added that she was “ashamed about my lack of education,” apologizing to the communities and individuals she had harmed or offended.
“I don’t think one apology means that I deserve your forgiveness, but rather I hope I can earn your forgiveness through my future actions,” she wrote.
Harrison did not clarify how long he planned to stay out of “The Bachelor” spotlight.
“I am dedicated to getting educated on a more profound and productive level than ever before,” he wrote. “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 told former “Bachelorette” star and “Extra” correspondent, Rachel Lindsay, that Rachael’s photos were taken long ago, while speaking out against cancel culture.
“I saw a picture of her at a sorority party five years ago and that’s it. Like, boom,” Harrison said, adding, “I’m like, ‘Really?'”
“The picture was from 2018 at an Old South antebellum party. That’s not a good look,” Lindsay responded.
“Well, Rachel, is it a good look in 2018? Or, is it not a good look in 2021? Because there’s a big difference,” Harrison asked.
“It’s not a good look ever,” Lindsay said. “If I went to that party, what would I represent at that party?”
“You’re 100% right in 2021,” Harrison replied. “That was not the case in 2018. And again, I’m not defending Rachael. I just know that, I don’t know, 50 million people did that in 2018. That was a type of party that a lot of people went to. And again, I’m not defending it. I didn’t go to it.”
Harrison apologized for his initial defense of Rachael in a Wednesday Instagram post.
“To my Bachelor Nation family — I will always own a mistake when I make one, so I am here to extend a sincere apology. have this incredible platform to speak about love, and yesterday I took a stance on topics about which I should have been better informed.”
“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,” he continued. “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. I also apologize to my friend Rachel Lindsay for not listening to her better on a topic she has a first-hand understanding of, and humbly thank the members of Bachelor Nation who have reached out to me to hold me accountable. I promise to do better.”