Bringing in new blood? Bachelor fans are rallying to replace Chris Harrison amid the host receiving backlash for the interview he did with Rachel Lindsay about contestant Rachael Kirkconnell’s social media scandal. On Saturday, February 13, the ABC host revealed he would be “stepping aside for a period of time” from the franchise and would not appear on the After the Final Rose special for Matt James‘ season.
“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, my colleagues and strangers alike,” the 49-year-old wrote in a statement via Instagram. “I have no one to blame but myself for what I said and the way I spoke. I set standards for myself and I have not met 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.”
Chris was interviewed by Rachel, 35, on Extra on Tuesday, February 9, after the season 25 contestant was accused of bullying and racism. The following day, the emcee apologized for his statements on the entertainment news show after fans claimed he was not holding Rachael, 24, accountable for her actions or taking the situation seriously enough.
“First and foremost, I don’t know. I haven’t talked to Rachael about it. And this is, again, where we all need to have a little grace, a little understanding, a little compassion,” Chris said during his interview with Rachel. “Because I’ve seen some stuff online — again this judge-jury-executioner thing — where people are just tearing this girl’s life apart and diving into, like, her parents and her parents’ voting record. It’s unbelievably alarming to watch this. I haven’t heard Rachael speak on this yet. And until I actually hear this woman have a chance to speak, who am I to say any of this?”
The season 25 contestant first came under fire when a TikTok user accused Rachael of mistreating her during high school for “liking Black guys.” Another TikTok video came out claiming the Georgia native “liked” racist social media posts, some of which featured the Confederate flag. Then, photos began circulating of Rachael attending an “Old South” antebellum-themed fraternity party in 2018.
The season 13 leading lady pointed out the pictures from the party, which took place at a plantation, was “not a good look” during her interview with Chris.
“You’re 100 percent right in 2021,” the ABC personality continued. “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.”
Chris took to Instagram the following day and issued a public apology for his statements. “To my Bachelor Nation family — I will always own a mistake when I make one, so I am here to extend a sincere apology,” he wrote on February 10. “I 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.”
“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,” the Texas native continued. “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.”
For her part, Rachael broke her silence about the controversy and released an apology on Thursday, February 11. “I’m here to say I was wrong. At one point, I didn’t recognize how offensive and racist my actions were, but that doesn’t excuse them. My age or when it happened does not excuse anything. They are not acceptable or OK in any sense. I was ignorant, but my ignorance was racist,” the graphic designer wrote via Instagram.
“I am sorry to the communities and individuals that my actions harmed and offended,” she continued. “I am ashamed about my lack of education, but it is no one’s responsibility to educate me. I am learning and will continue to learn how to be antiracist, because it’s important to speak up in the moment and not after you’re called out. If you are a person who doesn’t understand the offense in question, I urge you to learn from my mistakes and encourage you to use them as a teachable moment.”
Despite Chris apologizing, some fans are still rallying for him to be replaced as host for the Bachelor franchise. Keep scrolling to see the top picks.
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