Chris Harrison, host of “The Bachelor” franchise on ABC, announced over the weekend he is temporarily stepping down from his role after facing intense backlash for urging “grace” amid the growing cancel culture.
“This historic season of ‘The Bachelor’ should not be marred or overshadowed by my mistakes or diminished by my actions,” he said in a statement, referring to the fact that this season features the first black contestant, Matt James. “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.”
His announcement came after his colleague at “Extra,” Rachel Lindsay, herself a 2017 contestant on “The Bachelor,” condemned Harrison — who has hosted the reality series and its affiliated shows since 2002 — for his comments during an interview with her about the dangers of cancel culture and “Bachelor” contestant Rachael Kirkconnell, who, as a college student in 2018, attended an antebellum-themed sorority party.
“When I saw how this interview was going, I said, ‘I’m just gonna sit back and I’m just gonna let this man talk,’” Lindsay said on The Ringer podcast. “I’m gonna hold it together. I’m gonna poke just a little bit. But it was as if Chris Harrison woke up and said, ‘You know what? I’m just gonna be myself today.’ There was no PR on the call. There was nobody to stop him. Nobody to tell us to stop. Nobody to tell us to cut some things out. So we played the interview in its entirety on YouTube.”
“I wanted to react so badly,” she continued. “If you pay attention in that video, I’m moving my hands together, my foot is moving, ’cuz I’m boiling inside. And the things that were boiling to me the most were the compassion and the grace and the space that Chris Harrison wanted to give to Rachael [Kirkconnell] but couldn’t give it to this Rachel in the interview — couldn’t give it to the people that were offended by the things that she did. Where was the compassion for them?”
Lindsay, who essentially argued Harrison is a racist, said she was also angered by the ABC host’s “problematic” suggestion that Kirkconnell shouldn’t be condemned by anyone until she has had the opportunity to speak out about her own past decision to attend a party.
“You’re right, Chris Harrison,” she said. “Who are you? Who are you to say something? Because you aren’t the person who’s been offended by the very actions that she is affiliated with — by the things that she has done.”
“Who is Rachel Lindsay?” the “Extra” host continued. “Rachel Lindsay is a black woman, the very person who is affected by this Rachael Kirkconnell. So I have every right to speak out and say I’m offended. I have every right to say that this is what she should do. And I have every right to demand the apology.”
She concluded her monologue by saying she “can’t take it anymore,” adding she will no longer associate herself with “The Bachelor” franchise once her contract with Warner Bros. expires.
All of that came as a result of a 13-minute interview last week, when Harrison warned about the lack of grace in today’s cancel culture. He asked fans of “The Bachelor” to not act as “judge, jury, and executioner” over Kirkconnell’s past choices, asking them to extend “a little grace” and “a little understanding” toward the show’s leading contestant.
“We all need to have a little grace, a little understanding, a little compassion,” Harrison said. “Because I have seen some stuff online — this judge, jury, executioner thing where people are just tearing this girl’s life apart and diving into, like, her parents, her parents’ voting record. It’s unbelievably alarming to watch this.”
Initially, Harrison issued an apology for his comments, even extending his remorse to Lindsay, writing, “I also apologize to my friend Rachel Lindsay for not listening to her better on a topic she has a first-hand understanding of.”
That, though, was certainly not enough for Lindsay or for the fans of “The Bachelor” series. So Harrison is stepping aside as host for now because of how “harmful” his words were.
“To the Black community, to the BIPOC community: I am so sorry,” Harrison said in announcing his hiatus. “My words were harmful. I am listening, and I truly apologize for my ignorance and any pain it caused you. 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.”
Kirkconnell, for her part, has also apologized for attending the “Old South”-themed party as a college student, pledging to work toward being “anti-racist.”
Fans of “The Bachelor” launched a Change.org petition to have Harrison permanently removed because his actions have “perpetuated racism.” So far, the petition has amassed more than 40,000 signatures.