Longtime host of ABC’s the “Bachelor” walked back commentary he made in defense of contestant Rachael Kirkconnell’s recent plantation photo controversy.
In a Tuesday interview with Rachel Lindsay, the first Black female “Bachelorette” in franchise history, the pair debated the weight of the photos, with Harrison encouraging “compassion” before lashing out at Kirkconnell.
“This is, again, where we all need to have a little grace, a little understanding, a little compassion,” he remarked. “I haven’t heard Rachael speak on this yet. And until I actually hear this woman have a chance to speak, who am I to say any of this?”
Lindsay replied that the photo in question “”was from 2018 at an Old South antebellum party … that’s not a good look.” While Harrison contested, “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 rebuked, “because she’s celebrating the Old South. If I went to that party, what would I represent at that party?”
“You’re 100% right in 2021. That was not the case in 2018,” Harrison countered, “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. We are not looking under the same lens.”
Unappeased, she shot back: “That’s the problem… we weren’t looking through those lenses and we should have been. And just because it was a popular party, you know, doesn’t necessarily make it right.”
Bachelor Nation reacted with outrage and calls for his job. Former contestant Brett Vergara posted, “Instead of Chris Harrison releasing a notes app apology to Rachel Lindsay for that disturbing interview in a few hours or days, how about ABC just gives her his job?”
Harrison apologized the next day. “I have this incredible platform to speak about love, and yesterday I took a stance on topics 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 wrote on Instagram.
“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,” Harrison wrapped. “I promise to do better.”