*Chris Harrison, host of ABC’s “The Bachelor,” appeared on “Extra” this week in an interview with correspondent and former contestant Rachel Lindsay, the franchise’s first Black bachelorette and the reality show’s fiercest critic when it comes to race.
The interview did not go well for Harrison and a petition has been launched seeking his firing over appearing to defend a contestant’s resurfaced racist photos.
Lindsay asked what Harrison thought of the racial controversy surrounding Rachael Kirkconnell, a current contestant vying to wed the franchise’s first Black “Bachelor” Matt James. Photos from her attendance at a 2018 antebellum plantation-themed fraternity formal recently resurfaced. She’s also been accused on TikTok of racially-insensitive behavior, including liking photos containing the Confederate flag.
The reality star has yet to comment on the resurfaced photos. Since then, she’s also been accused of brownfishing, supporting the MAGA movement, and posting QAnon graphs on her Instagram.
Harrison suggested that plantation-themed parties were more accepted in 2018, and Kirkconnell couldn’t have known that it was offensive. When Lindsay responded that it simply was “not a good look,” Harrison became defensive and argued, “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 said, adding, “If I went to that party, what would I represent at that party?”
“You’re 100 percent right … in 2021,” Harrison said. “That was not the case in 2018. And again, I’m not defending Rachael. 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.”
Harrison also expressed sympathy towards Kirkconnell and her family, saying that the social media controversy has led to the public digging into her history and political views.
Harrison has since apologized for his commentary during the interview, posting on his social media Wednesday evening: “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 posted. “I have this incredible platform to speak about love, and yesterday I took a stance on topics about 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,” Harrison continued. “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. I promise to do better.”
— Chris Harrison (@chrisbharrison) February 11, 2021
A petition was started by fans on Change.org titled “Remove Chris Harrison From The Bachelor franchise,” asking for 7,500 signatures. It quickly surpassed that target and is now at 19,000 signatures toward a goal of 25,000. The description of the petition cites his Extra interview, and repeated use of the words, “woke police,” as well as Harrison’s assertion that Kirkconnell is a victim of cancel culture.