Chris Harrison Announces He's Stepping Aside From The Bachelor Amid Racism Controversy

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Chris Harrison is taking a leave of absence from The Bachelor franchise.

The news comes following growing controversy following an interview about a contestant on the current season. 

"This historic season of The Bachelor should not be marred or overshadowed by my mistakes or diminished by my actions," Harrison wrote on Instagram.

Chris Harrison at the Men Tell All

"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."

He continued, "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."

Harrison did not reveal how long he would be stepping away from the franchise for or who will appear in his place in the interim.

Chris Harrison Attends Jingle Ball Event

He has been with the series since its 2002 launch, appearing on The Bachelor, The Bachelorette, and its multiple other spinoffs.

His leave of absence comes just days after an interview with former Bachelorette Rachel Lindsay hit the air, in which he defended Rachael Kirkconnell, a current cast member on Matt James' season of the series, which is currently airing on ABC.

Kirkconnell's social media behavior has been questioned ever since the season kicked off last month when a TikTok video seemingly revealed the contestant "liking" posts containing the Confederate flag and sharing QAnon conspiracy theories.

More recently, photos appeared on the internet that showed Kirkconnel attending an "Old South" plantation-themed college party in 2018.

Kirkconnell has since apologized.

Chris Harrison in 2015

When Harrison spoke to Lindsay, Kirkconnell had not yet responded to the allegations, and Harrison did not speak out against Kirkconnell.

“I haven’t talked to Rachael about it, we all need to have a little grace, a little understanding, a little compassion," he said to Lindsay.

"I have seen some stuff online. Again, this judge, jury, executioner thing where people are just tearing this girl’s life apart … Until I actually hear this woman have a chance to speak, who am I to say any of this."

"I saw a picture of her at a sorority party five years ago that’s it... My guess? These girls got dressed up and went to a party and had a great time, they were 18 years old.

"Now, does that make it OK? I don’t know Rachel, you tell me. Were we all looking through [that lens] in 2018?”

Harrison, Chris The Bachelor

The interview immediately sparked backlash, and Harrison issued a statement shortly after.

"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 said in his statement earlier this week.

"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."

Kirkconnell shared a statement of her own the following day.

"I'm here to say I was wrong," she wrote.

"I was ignorant, but my ignorance was racist."

She apologized to the communities and individuals who were harmed by her actions and said that viewers must be "sick" of reading such apology statements.

Rachel Kirkconnell

"I want to put my energy towards preventing people from making the same offensive mistakes that I made in the first place, and I hope I can prove this to you moving forward," she wrote.

“I am sorry to the communities and individuals that my actions harmed and offended," wrote Kirkconnell. "I am ashamed about my lack of education, but it is no one’s responsibility to educate me.

"I am learning and will continue to learn how to be antiracist, because it’s important to speak up in the moment and not after you’re called out," she continued.

"If you are a person who doesn’t understand the offense in question, I urge you to learn from my mistakes and encourage you to use them as a teachable moment."

Looking For Her Soulmate - The Bachelorette

Bachelor franchise alums have been speaking out about the interview, including Tayshia Adams and Clare Crawley, who offered their support for Lindsay.

In recent days a petition was launched to have Harrison ousted from the series.

Remember you can watch The Bachelor online right here via TV Fanatic.

Catch new episodes Mondays at 8/7c.

Paul Dailly is the Associate Editor for TV Fanatic. Follow him on X.

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