Chris Harrison, who has hosted The Bachelor for 25 seasons, is used to putting the reality show’s stars and contestants in the hot seat. But thanks to some comments he made in a recent interview with Rachel Lindsay, the franchise’s first Black Bachelorette, now he is feeling the heat of public opinion and apologizing.
“To my Bachelor Nation family — I will always own a mistake when I make one, so I am here to extend a sincere apology,” Harrison said in a tweet Wednesday night. “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.”
In case you missed the offense, Harrison opened his mouth and inserted his foot during a recent Extra interview that Lindsay hosted. During the segment, Lindsay and Harrison discussed photos of Season 25 contestant Kirkconnell — currently vying for the heart of Matt James, the franchise’s first Black Bachelor — attending an Antebellum party three years ago. She has since taken the photos off of social media and disabled the comments option. Because of the painful and racist history the pre-Civil War Antebellum South and slavery triggers, many have shunned romanticizing the era and its images.
Instead of saying something about the problematic nature that Kirkconnell’s past racial insensitivities create, Harrison defended her reputation and lambasted what he called “cancel culture.”
“This ‘judge, jury, executioner’ thing where people are just tearing this girl’s life apart and diving into her parents’ voting record … it’s unbelievably alarming to watch this,” a visibly frustrated Harrison told Lindsay. “You know, I saw a picture of her at a sorority show five years ago, and that’s it.”
But Lindsay didn’t let Harrison or Kirkconnell shirk their accountability that easily: “Well, the picture was from 2018 at an old South/Antebellum party, so that’s not a good look.”
Harrison then questioned Lindsay if cancel culture made Kirkconnell’s actions unacceptable in 2018 or now, and Lindsay, who used to be an attorney, stood her ground.
“It’s not a good look ever,” she said, before emphasizing the slavery component in regards to being Black. “She’s celebrating the old South. If I went to that party, what would I represent?”
However, Harrison never conceded his point, and fans of The Bachelor didn’t appreciate his cultural obtuseness.
“We can leave grace and space for learning while still demanding accountability,” tweeted Huffington Post reporter Emma Gray. “I feel like [Chris Harrison] expresses more empathy for people who romanticize the confederacy than people who are harmed by white supremacy in this clip. So disappointing.”
UPDATE: Kirkconnell posted her own apology on Instagram on Thursday, acknowledging that her actions were “offensive and racist” and stating that “they are not acceptable or okay in any sense. I was ignorant, but my ignorance was racist.” She added that she is “ashamed about my lack of education, but it is no one’s responsibility to educate me,” and she pledged 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.”