Following his explosive interview with Rachel Lindsay and subsequently stepping away from The Bachelor franchise, Chris Harrison is speaking out for the first time.
In an exclusive interview with Michael Strahan on Good Morning America, the longtime Bachelor host addressed the comments he made defending current Bachelor contestant Rachael Kirkconnell, whose social media posts show her “liking” a photo containing a Confederate flag and attending an “Old South” plantation-themed party in 2018.
“I am an imperfect man, I made a mistake and I own that,” Harrison said on GMA. “I believe that mistake doesn’t reflect who I am or what I stand for. I am committed to progress, not just for myself, also for the franchise. And this is a franchise that has been a part of my life for the better part of 20 years and I love it.”
In this new interview, Harrison walked back previous comments he made about Kirkconnell’s 2018 photos at an Old South antebellum party being fine in 2018, claiming “50 million people” attended similar parties that year. He continued to blame the “woke police” for taking issues with things people have done in the past, implying these actions only became “not a good look” in 2021.
When Michael Strahan pressed Harrison on whether there is a difference between Kirkconnell’s photos not being a good look in 2018 or 2021, Chris replied, “There is not. Antebellum parties are not OK. Past, present, future, knowing what that represents is unacceptable.”
While Harrison says he has already apologized to Lindsay, just last week, she deactivated her Instagram account as she’s been the target of harassment from fans mad about the host being “fired.”
“I am saddened and shocked at how insensitive I was in that interview with Rachel Lindsay. I can’t believe I didn’t speak against antebellum parties, what they stand for,” said Harrison. “I didn’t say it then and I want to say it now: those parties are not OK, past, present, future. And I didn’t speak from my heart. And that is to say that I stand against all forms of racism, and I am deeply sorry to Rachel Lindsay and to the Black community.”
He continued, “To anyone who is throwing hate towards Rachel Lindsay, please stop. It’s unacceptable.”
While many fans were hoping for a change to the franchise, moving forward, Harrison hopes to come back to continue hosting in the future.
“I plan to be back and I want to be back. And I think this franchise can be an important beacon of change,” he said. “I know that change is felt, not just by me, but by many others. And we are excited and willing to do the work to show that progress.”
Harrison continued, “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.”
In the interim, bestselling author, Emmanuel Acho will fill in for Chris for the “After the Final Rose” episode.
Acho hosts the widely popular online series “Uncomfortable Conversations With a Black Man,” which dives into meaningful dialogue around racial ignorance. The former NFL linebacker is also an analyst for the Fox Sports show “Speak for Yourself.”