Bachelor host Chris Harrison has apologized again and will temporarily step back from the dating show after he received backlash for his initial defense of contestant Rachael Kirkconnell amid racism allegations.
"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."
This came after the season 25 frontrunner 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 dressed as a Native American.
The 24-year-old also allegedly "liked" a photo of a Confederate flag and shared QAnon conspiracy theories online, according to a viral TikTok video.
"We all need to have a little grace, a little understanding, a little compassion. Because I have seen some stuff online — this judge, jury, executioner thing where people are just tearing this girl’s life apart and diving into, like, her parents, her parents’ voting record. It’s unbelievably alarming to watch this. I haven’t heard Rachael speak on this yet. Until I actually hear this woman have a chance to speak, who am I to say any of this?" Harrison told Rachel Lindsay during a chat, which is how the backlash began.
"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. 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," Harrison posted on social media on Wednesday, February 10.
Kirkconnell has since posted an 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."
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.