Longtime franchise host Chris Harrison “is very upset” about being replaced on The Bachelorette following his controversial comments on season 25 Bachelor contestant Rachael Kirkconnell, a source exclusively tells Life & Style.
On March 12, ABC announced Bachelor Nation‘s Tayshia Adams and Kaitlyn Bristowe would be taking over for season 17 and 18 of The Bachelorette starring The Bachelor‘s Katie Thurston in summer 2021 and Michelle Young in fall 2021.
“While Chris adores Tayshia and Kaitlyn, and wishes them well on hosting The Bachelorette, he’s disappointed,” adds the insider. “He does understand that he handled the Rachael incident in the wrong way, and he agrees that stepping back for a while is a good idea.”
During a February 9 interview with former Bachelorette Rachel Lindsay, Chris, 49, addressed the outrage surrounding Kirkconnell’s past racist behavior — specifically when the Cumming, Georgia, native, 24, attended an “Old South” plantation party at Georgia State College & University in 2018 where all of the women wore Antebellum-style dresses.
When Lindsay, 35, asserted the photos of Kirkconnell at the party weren’t “a good look,” Chris said, “You’re 100 percent right in 2021. 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.” Additionally, the Texas native suggested fans offer Kirkconnell “grace, understanding and compassion.”
Chris’ comments led to immediate backlash from Bachelor Nation and viewers alike. Since then, he released two separate apologies via Instagram. Moreover, he “has been doing his homework” and “educating himself,” the source assures. “He’s been getting crash courses on handling racial topics and the history of racism from some leading experts. There’s a lot he admits he didn’t know. ABC has been great about providing inclusion and sensitivity training to Chris as well as all employees, on-air talent and behind-the-scenes employees.”
The father of two, who shares sons Joshua and Taylor with ex-wife Gwen Harrison, is “trying to be positive” amid the scandal,” notes the insider. “He knows the times have changed and he needs to do better, and he will. He’s not about to go public with any further explanations, it’s not the right time, but he’s not on board with the current cancel culture that’s rampant in Hollywood. He believes it’s a time to learn and grow from our mistakes, including his own.”
According to the source, Chris is leaning on his “solid friends who support him,” as well as his girlfriend, Lauren Zima, “who’s been a godsend during this time.”