Time to say his goodbyes to Bachelor Nation?
Chris Harrison said he was temporarily stepping aside following his second apology after initially defending contestant Rachael Kirkconnell amid racism allegations, however insiders tell OK! that it is unlikely the longtime host will ever return.
“Even before this racist incident the network had been looking to make a change to The Bachelor for some time. Now Chris has made it much easier for them to fire him and bring in a new, younger, person-of-color host,” an insider tells OK!. “ABC brought in Tyra Banks to replace Tom Bergeron on Dancing With The Stars, and they were talking about doing the same with Chris. That process has now been accelerated."
“Rachel was the show's first Black Bachelorette," the source notes. "She is a lawyer and now the host of Extra. Plus, Rachel interviewed Chris and exposed him, causing this entire drama.”
Sources add that there are no plans to edit Harrison out of the remaining episodes of the show that have already been taped — but, after that, fans shouldn't expect to see him on the show again. “It’s over,” an insider dished.
The fall out began after Rachael Kirkconnell, the frontrunner on Matt James' season, was heavily criticized on social media when a photo of her at a "Kappa Alpha Order 'Old South' formal, an antebellum plantation themed ball," resurfaced, according to a Reddit user who found the photograph in addition to another photo of her apparently dressed as a Native American.
Harrison initially defended the controversial contestant, who is vying for the first Black male lead's heart, by saying she needed a "little compassion" during an interview with Extra co-host Lindsay.
"I saw a picture of her at a sorority party five years ago, and that's it, boom," Harrison said during the interview. "This girl is in this book now, and she’s now in this group, and I’m like, really?”
“Well, the picture was from 2018 at an Old South antebellum party,” Lindsay, 35, replied. “That’s not a good look.”
Harrison then questioned: "Is it [not] a good look in 2018, or is it not a good look in 2021?"
"It’s not a good look ever, cause she’s celebrating the Old South," Lindsay stated. "If I went to that party, what would I represent at that party?"
Harrison continued to defend the 24-year-old, responding: "My guess, these girls got dressed up and went to a party and had a great time, they were 18 years old. Now does it make it OK? I don’t know, Rachel, you tell me.
"I am not the woke police," he added, a phrase he reiterated several times throughout the interview.
Harrison quickly found himself on the receiving end of the backlash, promoting him to issue a lengthy apology.
"I have spent the last few days listening to the pain my words have caused, and I am deeply remorseful. My ignorance did damage to my friends, colleagues and strangers alike. I have no one to blame but myself for what I said and the way I spoke," the television personality wrote in a lengthy statement via Instagram on Saturday, February 13.
"I set standards for myself, and have to meet them. I feel that with every fiber of my being. Now just as I taught my children to stand up, and to own their actions, I will do the same," the 49-year-old continued. "By excusing historical racism, I defended it. I invoked the term 'woke police,' which is unacceptable. I am ashamed over how uninformed I was. I was so wrong.
"To the Black community, to the BIPOC community: I am so sorry. My words were harmful. I am listening, and I truly apologize for my ignorance and any pain it caused you," he added. "I want to give my heartfelt thanks to the people from these communities who I've had enlightening conversations with over the past few days, and I am so grateful to those who have reached out to help me on my path to anti-racism.
"The historic season of The Bachelor should not be marred or overshadowed by my mistakes or diminished by my actions. 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," Harrison concluded. "I am dedicated to getting educated on a more profound and productive level than ever before."
Lindsay said on her "Higher Learning" podcast that Harrison reached out to her privately and apologized, which she "appreciated," but said she is exhausted and may exit the Bachelor Nation franchise once her contract expires.
"The things that were boiling to me the most were the compassion and the space and the grace that Chris Harrison wanted to give to Rachael, but couldn’t give it to this Rachel in the interview, couldn’t give it to the people that were offended by the things that she did," Lindsay said.
Kirkconnell has since posted her own apology for her "racist" and "offensive" actions.
"My age or when it happened does not excuse anything. They are not acceptable or okay in any sense. I was ignorant, but my ignorance was racist," she wrote on Thursday, February 12.
"I am sorry to the communities and individuals that my actions harmed and offended. I am ashamed about my lack of education, but it is no one's responsibility to educate me."