“Bachelor” host Chris Harrison said Saturday he is “stepping aside” from the show “for a period of time” after defending a frontrunner on the current season who came under scrutiny for social media photos from her past.
Harrison spoke out on behalf of Rachael Kirkconnell, who was reportedly photographed at an antebellum plantation-themed fraternity formal in 2018.
Kirkconnell has not yet commented on the photos.
Earlier this week Harrison told “Extra” correspondent and former star of “The Bachelorette,” Rachel Lindsay, that the pictures were a long time ago and spoke out against cancel culture.
“I saw a picture of her at a sorority party five years ago and that’s it. Like, boom,” Harrison said, adding, “I’m like, ‘Really?’”
Lindsay replied, “The picture was from 2018 at an Old South antebellum party. That’s not a good look.”
Harrison replied, “Well, Rachel, is it a good look in 2018? Or, is it not a good look in 2021? Because there’s a big difference.”
“It’s not a good look ever,” Lindsay said. “If I went to that party, what would I represent at that party?”
“You’re 100% right in 2021,” Harrison then said. “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.”
In another Instagram post, on Wednesday, Harrison apologized for his original defense of Kirkconnell, writing:
“To my Bachelor Nation family – I will always own a mistake when I make one, so I am here to extend a sincere apology. 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,” he continued. “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. 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.”
He added that he wanted the public to give Kirkconnell have a chance to speak for herself.