As far as I know, while several contestants and leads of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette (and the show in general) have been subjected to a lot of public scrutiny after saying or doing things that fans have not liked, host Chris Harrison has never really been in the line of fire before. But, it appears that that time is over, as Harrison took a lot of heat online for a recent chat with former Bachelorette Rachel Lindsay, and he's now apologizing and admitting his interview "perpetuates racism."
Here's what happened. Chris Harrison spoke to Rachel Lindsay on Extra about a current contestant on Matt James' Season 25 of The Bachelor, Rachael Kirkconnell. This particular contestant has been under fire herself quite a bit recently for what's seen as a lot of problematic and racist behavior, and even more now that a photo has come out of her celebrating at an Antebellum party in 2018. When Harrison was asked about his thoughts on Kirkconnell, instead of simply saying that we should let her speak for herself, he defended her and spoke out against cancel culture.
Now, he's apologizing for his remarks, and took to Twitter with this statement:
To my Bachelor Nation family -- I will always own a mistake when I make one, so I am here to extend a sincere apology. 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.
Part of the problem that a lot of people had after hearing Harrison's comments about Rachael Kirkconnell was how much he stood up for her and tried to walk the line of saying what she did was wrong, but also excusing her behavior simply because some people were less aware of what a party like that actually stands for, and the fact that it embraces a life afforded to people of the time period explicitly because they were slave-holders. And, of course, all of this is exacerbated by the fact that she was cast on a season with the First Black Bachelor.
As Rachel Lindsay pressed Harrison during the interview, he continued to hold his position that Kirkconnell should be given "grace" and "time" to speak out. This is even though the point was made that the allegations about her behavior have been present since the debut of Matt's season, which was the first week of January. Meanwhile, as this article was being written, Kirkconnell responded to all of the racism allegations in an Instagram post, which you can read in full for yourself.
In the rest of his apology, Harrison also 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.
Hopefully, this isn't just a public apology so that Chris Harrison doesn't have to face any more negativity online, but his "promise to do better" really means that he's going to take a look at why his comments angered so many fans and learn about the issue at hand.
Matt James' season of The Bachelor continues every Monday on ABC, at 8 p.m. EST.