The “Bachelor” host appeared on Thursday’s “Good Morning America” to talk about defending the racism accusations against “Bachelor” contestant Rachael Kirkconnell last month. Speaking virtually with Michael Strahan, the 49-year-old TV personality admitted that he “made a mistake.”
“It was a mistake,” Harrison said. “I made a mistake. I am an imperfect man. I made a mistake and I own that. I believe that mistake doesn’t reflect who I am or what I stand for. I am committed to the progress, not just for myself, also for the franchise.”
Harrison made headlines last month after comments he made during an interview with former Bachelorette Rachel Lindsay. In the Feb. 9 interview, Harrison defended Kirkconnell’s past racist actions, and encouraged people to offer her “grace.”
Just after Matt James‘ “Bachelor” premiere in January, a TikTok user accused Kirkconnell — an early front runner on the show — of bullying her in the past for dating Black men. Then, another user accused Kirkconnell of liking racist photos. Pics have also surfaced of Kirkconnell at an Old South plantation-themed party while in college.
“Antebellum parties are not OK. Past, present, future,” Harrison said on “GMA”. “Knowing what that represents is unacceptable.”
EXCLUSIVE: “It was a mistake.” #TheBachelor host Chris Harrison apologizes for defending frontrunner Rachael Kirkconnell’s past racist social media posts, telling @michaelstrahan he is an “imperfect man” who is “committed to progress.” https://t.co/OfPBBzGd9s pic.twitter.com/0EgbKV99DV
— Good Morning America (@GMA) March 4, 2021
Looking at his interview with Lindsay now, Harrison said he’s “saddened and shocked at how insensitive I was.”
“I didn’t speak from my heart and that is to say I stand against all forms of racism. I am deeply sorry,” he said. “I’m sorry to Rachel Lindsay and I’m sorry to the Black community.”
Harrison noted that he has spoken to and apologized to Lindsay since the interview, though he has not done so again since she deactivated her Instagram account due to harassment she received.
“I talked to Rachel, not since she deactivated her Instagram account, but talked to her initially and apologized and I want to do so again,” he said. “I am incredibly sorry. To anyone who is throwing hate towards Rachel Lindsay, please stop. It is unacceptable.”
Much of the hate Lindsay has been subject to has been from people who think that Harrison is being treated unfairly. Harrison, though, said he’s “not a victim here.”
“I made a mistake and I own that,” he said. “Racism, oppression, these are big dynamic problems and they take serious work and I am committed to that work.”
Part of that work is coming with the help of Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, who’s a race educator and strategist, as well as a faith leader.
“Dr. Dyson often talks to me about counsel, not cancel. That is full accountability, understanding what you didn’t understand,” he said. “Owning that, learning from that, seeking counsel often in the community that you hurt, learning from them, listening, gaining experience, knowledge, and moving forward.”
Dr. Dyson later commented on Harrison’s interview, saying that the host “took a major step today in recognition, responsibility and reconciliation.”
He continued, “It was heartening to see him apologize directly and sincerely to Rachel Lindsay, to whom he had displayed a level of insensitivity that he readily and fully acknowledged. He forthrightly called off the hate mongers whose venom caused Ms. Lindsay to delete her Instagram account. Chris took full ownership of his mistake.”
Harrison also touched on his decision to step aside from the franchise for a period of time, and expressed his want to return eventually.
“I plan to be back and I want to be back,” he said. “This interview is not the finish line. There is much more work to be done and I am excited to be a part of that change.”
“His apology is his apology, but it felt like I got nothing more than a surface response on any of this,” Strahan later told his co-hosts after the interview aired. “And obviously, he’s the man who wants to clearly stay on the show – only time will tell if there is any meaning behind his words.”
Harrison originally issued his own statement, apologizing for “wrongly speaking in a manner that perpetuates racism. In a second apology issued on Feb. 13, he announced that he’d be taking time off and would not be hosting the “After the Final Rose” special with James and his final pick.
Former NFL player and TV personality Emmanuel Acho will replace Harrison as host of the special on March 15.
A source told ET that 30-year-old Acho is ready for his hosting duties. “He feels confident about replacing Chris Harrison for the episode and believes he can lead important conversations that viewers should learn about and be part of,” the source said.
See more in the video below.
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