Chris Harrison is putting up a serious fight to stay on as host of The Bachelor, which is why he kicked off his apology tour with ABC’s Michael Strahan on Good Morning America. And while Harrison assumed having his first appearance on a show that is on the same network as The Bachelor would be a good place to start, OK! has exclusively learned that Harrison felt blindsided by the edited interview and Strahan's unimpressed reaction to his apology.
"Chris wanted to fly from L.A. to New York to appear live on Good Morning America. But instead was told it would be better to pre-tape his segment from L.A. because of COVID-19 precautions. Rather than pre-tape from home, Chris went to an approved ABC studio where he sat in front of a green screen with the 'at-home' background artificially added," a source exclusively tells OK!.
"Before Chris said a word he looked like a phony. But after the awkward visual, Chris actually thought the interview went well. Little did he know how the piece would be edited.”
To make matters worse, after the pre-taped piece aired on the Thursday, March 4, live show, Strahan said: "His apology is his apology, but it felt like I got nothing more than a surface response on any of this," adding that Harrison is "obviously a man who wants to clearly stay on the show, but only time will tell if there’s any meaning behind his words.”
Now, adds our source, “Chris feels ambushed. If Michael Strahan is questioning his motives, what chance does he have convincing everyone that he is sincere? Chris is hurt and angry."
However, insiders close to the morning show said that Strahan had to ask all the hard questions and did so in a kind and fair way.
As OK! previously reported, Harrison, 49, has been under fire in recent weeks after he failed to denounce Matt James' controversial contestant Rachael Kirkconnell during his bombshell interview with Extra co-host and former Bachelorette Rachel Lindsay — the first Black lead in Bachelor history.
During the interview, Harrison said Bachelor Nation should offer Kirkconnell, 24, a little "grace" and "compassion" after photos of her appearing to be dressed in Native American attire and attending an antebellum plantation-themed college party in 2018 resurfaced online.
Harrison's appearance on Good Morning America was his first interview since he apologized to Lindsay — whom he continued to talk over during their February 9 interview — and the public before announcing that he would temporarily be stepping back from the franchise.
While speaking with Harrison, Strahan brought up one of his past remarks during his interview with Lindsay, when Harrison implied that the photo of Kirkconnell at an antebellum plantation-themed party was more acceptable in 2018 as opposed to 2021 because people are now looking through a different "lens."
Strahan questioned whether there is a difference between the photo being a bad look in 2018 versus 2021, to which the shamed host responded: "There is not."
Harrison clarified: "Antebellum parties are not OK. Past, present, future, knowing what that represents is unacceptable."
He added, "I am saddened and shocked at how insensitive I was in that interview with Rachel Lindsay. I didn't speak for my heart, that is to say I stand against all forms of racism. I'm sorry to Rachel Lindsay, and I'm sorry to the Black community."
At the end of the interview, Harrison hinted at his return to The Bachelor. "I plan to be back and I want to be back," he said before sharing that he's "committed to progress, not just for myself, also for the franchise."
While Harrison hoped his interview with Strahan would put him back in Bachelor Nation's good graces, Bachelor fans and former contestants are already calling for producers to get rid of the longtime host for good.
In light of the racism scandal, multiple Bachelor favorites have spoken out about the controversy, including Kirkconnell and James, who said he was "incredibly" disappointed in the "photos of Rachael Kirkconnell and the interview between Rachel Lindsay and Chris Harrison."
Click here to see which Bachelor favorites rallied behind James during this troubling time.