Chris Harrison appeared on the March 4 episode of Good Morning America to discuss the racism controversy surrounding The Bachelor franchise. The drama stemmed from Chris defending contestant Rachael Kirkconnell’s past racist actions during an interview with Rachel Lindsay in February. Now, Chris is taking ownership for the “mistake” he made in excusing Rachael’s past behavior.
EXCLUSIVE: “It was a mistake.” #TheBachelor host Chris Harrison apologizes for defending frontrunner Rachael Kirkconnell’s past racist social media posts, telling @michaelstrahan he is an “imperfect man” who is “committed to progress.” https://t.co/OfPBBzGd9s pic.twitter.com/0EgbKV99DV
— Good Morning America (@GMA) March 4, 2021
“I am an imperfect man,” Chris admitted. “I made a mistake and I own that. I believe that mistake doesn’t reflect who I am or what I stand for. I am committed to the progress, not just for myself, but also for the franchise.” Interviewer Michael Strahan called Chris’s responses in the GMA interview “surface level,” but Chris said that he plans to continue as host of The Bachelor franchise in the future. “I plan to be back and I want to be back,” he insisted. “This interview is not the finish line. There is more work to be done and I am excited to be part of that change.”
He added, “I am saddened and shocked at how insensitive I was in that interview with Rachel Lindsay. I didn’t speak from my heart. I stand against all forms of racism and I am deeply sorry. I’m sorry to Rachel Lindsay and I’m sorry to the Black community.” Chris also referenced the hate that Rachel has been getting on social media, which caused her to deactivate her account. “I want to [apologize] to her again,” he said. “I am incredibly sorry. To anyone who is throwing hate towards Rachel Lindsay please stop. It is unacceptable.”
Chris said he is working with race educators and strategists, as well as faith leaders and scholars, to educate himself. “I am not a victim here,” he clarified. “I made a mistake and I own that. Racism, oppression — these are big, dynamic problems and they take serious work and I am committed to that work.”
Rachael Kirkconnell is one of the final three women on Matt James’ season of The Bachelor. Buzz about the contestant began when the season first started, as a woman who claimed to have gone to high school with her accused her of bullying in the past. Then, in February, photos surfaced of Rachael attending an Old South/antebellum party in college. She was slammed for glorifying a time when slavery was prevalent. Another TikTok user also uncovered alleged controversial Instagram posts that Rachael had previously liked, including one of friends posing in front of the confederate flag.
When Rachel Lindsay asked Chris about the controversy during an interview on Extra in February, he diminished the racist nature of the Old South party photos. Backlash immediately began pouring in, and Chris issued an apology the next day. Then, Rachael came forward with an apology of her own, where she took accountability, denounced her past actions and vowed to learn and do better in the future.
The scandal continued to blow up, as both fans and former members of the Bachelor franchise started calling for change on the show. Chris eventually decided to “step aside” as host for this season’s After The Final Rose special on March 15, and it was revealed that former football player, Emmanuel Acho, would be leading the conversation instead. Chris’s future with the franchise remains unclear.