On Saturday, The Hollywood Reporter revealed that Harrison, longtime host of the Bachelor franchise, will be stepping down from his duties “for a period of time.” Harrison announced the news in an Instagram post, and the decision comes on the heels of a controversial interview he had with former show alum and the first Black bachelorette, Rachel Lindsay, earlier in the week.
“This historic season of The Bachelor should not be marred or overshadowed by my mistakes or diminished by my actions,” Harrison wrote in his Instagram post on Saturday. “To that end, I have consulted with Warner Bros. and ABC and will be stepping aside for a period of time and will not join for the After the Final Rose special.”
Harrison went on to explain, “I am dedicated to getting educated on a more profound and productive level than ever before. I want to ensure our cast and crew members, to my friends, colleagues and our fans: this is not just a moment, but a commitment to much greater understanding that I will actively make every day.”
Fans and alumni have long been calling for the Bachelor franchise to address issues related to lack of diversity, racism, and poorly vetted contestants. And on Wednesday, Harrison attempted to address the latest racist accusations to come out of the show in a discussion with Lindsey. His comments did not go over well.
For those who haven’t been following the drama, recently discovered photos of Rachael Kirkconnell — a contestant on Matt James’ currently airing season of The Bachelor — from 2018 have sparked outrage online. In the photos, Kirkconnell is seen attending an “Old South” plantation-themed college party with a group of women. In addition to the photos, other allegations against Kirkconnell related to bullying and political beliefs/conspiracy theory promotions have been made against the contestant.
Before Kirkconnell made a statement addressing her past actions, Harrison went on Lindsay’s podcast to share his thoughts. In doing so he failed to properly condemn Kirkconnell’s racist behavior while arguing to Lindsay, who is, again, a Black woman, that Kirkconnell should be given grace because the photos were taken years ago.
“Well, Rachel, is it a good look in 2018, or is it not a good look in 2021? Because there’s a big difference,” Harrison asked Lindsay. “Where is this lens we’re holding up and was this lens available, and were we all looking through it in 2018?”
After listening to the truly exhausting back and forth, fans and former show participants expressed grave disappointment in Harrison’s actions, and the host later penned an apology for “wrongly speaking in a manner that perpetuates racism.”
Though Harrison said he will not attend this season’s After the Final Rose special, it remains unclear how long he’ll be stepping back from the franchise or if he’ll ever return.