After being involved in a public controversy, Chris Harrison stepped aside from hosting this year’s ‘After The Final Rose’ special during ‘The Bachelor’ Finale.
Chris Harrison hosted season 25 of The Bachelor, which was filmed in the fall of 2020, as usual. However, he will NOT be in attendance during the more recently taped After the Final Rose special, which will air for one hour after the show’s season finale on March 15. Chris announced his decision not to host the post-show event on Feb. 13, following a racism controversy that involved one of this season’s contestants.
In February, season 25 contestant, Rachael Kirkconnell, who is now one of the final two women, was exposed for attending an Old South, antebellum-themed party in college. Former Bachelorette star, Rachel Lindsay, interviewed Chris about the situation for Extra on Feb. 9, and he downplayed the racist nature of Rachael attending this type of party. “My guess? These girls got dressed up and went to a party and had a great time,” Chris said. “They were 18 years old. Now, does that make it okay? I don’t know, Rachel, you tell me. Where is this lens we’re holding up and was that lens available were we all looking through it in 2018? I don’t know.”
After the interview aired, Chris immediately began facing backlash for seemingly excusing Rachael’s past behavior and insinuating that it was okay to be racist in 2018. He issued his first apology on Feb. 10. “I will always make a mistake when I make one, so I am here to extend a sincere apology,” he wrote. “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.” He also offered a direct apology to Rachel Lindsay.
However, at this point, the interview had gone viral, and the damage had been done. On Feb. 11, Rachael Kirkconnell issued her own apology, where she took full accountability for her actions. Many pointed out that her apology seemed much more sincere than Chris’s, which led to more backlash in the longtime host’s direction. At this point, he made the decision to take a break from his hosting duties.
“By excusing historical racism, I defended it,” Chris admitted on Feb. 13. “I invoked the term ‘woke police’, which is unacceptable. I am ashamed over how uninformed I was. I was so wrong.” He added that he would be “stepping aside for a period of time and will not join for the After The Final Rose special.” He also vowed to educate himself and promised that he would try to “evolve and become a better man.”
Chris did not specify what “stepping aside” would mean for his future with the Bachelor franchise. During a March 4 interview with Michael Strahan on Good Morning America, he said that he “plans” and “wants” to be back on the show in the future. However, he did not clarify whether or not that would be for the next season of The Bachelorette, which is expected to film this spring.
Meanwhile, former football player, Emmanuel Acho, will be stepping in for Chris on After The Final Rose. Emmanuel is currently an analyst for Fox Sports 1, and went viral in 2020 for his video series called Uncomfortable Conversations With A Black Man. The Bachelor finale begins at 8:00 p.m. on March 14 on ABC.