‘The Bachelor’ host Chris Harrison ‘stepping aside’ after controversial interview

Chris Harrison, the host of “The Bachelor” franchise, said Saturday he will be “stepping aside” from the franchise after his second apology after a controversial interview he had with a former star of the show.

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“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 of the ABC reality franchise 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.

“I am dedicated to getting educated on a more profound and productive level than ever before. 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 has hosted “The Bachelor” and its spinoffs, including “The Bachelorette,” since the ABC franchise first launched in 2002, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Harrison’s announcement came after a 13-minute interview Tuesday on Extra with former “Bachelorette” star Rachel Lindsay, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Harrison spoke out on behalf of Rachael Kirkconnell, a contestant who was reportedly photographed at an antebellum plantation-themed fraternity formal in 2018, CNN reported.

Kirkconnell is a frontrunner on “The Bachelor” series, which features Matt James as the first Black bachelor on the program, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Lindsay was the first Black bachelorette during the 2017 season.

In his interview with Lindsay on Tuesday, Harrison said people should have “a little grace, a little understanding, a little compassion” for Kirkconnell.

“The picture was from 2018 at an Old South antebellum party,” Lindsay told Harrison. “That’s not a good look.”

“Well, Rachel, is it a good look in 2018, or is it not a good look in 2021? Because there’s a big difference,” he asked Lindsay in reference to the “Old South” party photos. “Where is this lens we’re holding up and was this lens available, and were we all looking through it in 2018?”

“It’s not a good look ever,” Lindsay said. “If I went to that party, what would I represent at that party?”

Kirkconnell also apologized after Harrison, Variety reported.

“I didn’t recognize how offensive and racist my actions were, but that doesn’t excuse them,” Kirkconnell said.”I was ignorant, but my ignorance was racist.”

On Thursday, the 25 BIPOC contestants from James’ season issued a statement via Instagram.

Harrison apologized after the interview was criticized, saying Wednesday he was “wrongly speaking in a manner that perpetuates racism,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.

“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,” Harrison said. “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.”

James, along with “The Bachelorette” stars Tayshia Adams and Clare Crawley, denounced the interview, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

“Your advocacy of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and people of color) in the franchise is invaluable,” James said in a statement in defense of Lindsay, “I stand with you and the rest of the women advocating for change and accountability.”

In a statement, Adams said she was “hurt and disappointed and confused at the ignorance” and clarified that she does not align with the franchise’s actions this week.

“I have been listening to conversations and discussions as an ally and will always continue to learn, denounce and support BIPOC in the fight against racism,” Crawley said in a statement.