The Bachelor has seen its fair share of controversy, but the conflict has generally surrounded the show’s many eligible bachelor and bachelorette contestants. Now, the franchise’s host of 19 years, Chris Harrison, is the one under fire. Harrison has been embroiled in conflict after defending The Bachelor contestant Rachael Kirkconnell’s past actions that have been criticized as racist, which ultimately resulted in both of them issuing apologies. Keep reading to learn why people are angry at Harrison, and for more on the TV host, discover The One Bachelor Chris Harrison Couldn’t Get Along With.
A current Bachelor contestant has been criticized for resurfaced photos.
Kirkconnell is a Bachelor contestant on the current season of the show, which features women vying for the affection of Matt James, the show’s first Black Bachelor. She recently sparked criticism after photos resurfaced of her attending an antebellum plantation-themed fraternity formal in 2018, per Deadline.
This isn’t the first time that Kirkconnell’s past has been called into question. Variety reports that Kirkconnell has been accused of other racially insensitive behavior, including “liking” photos containing the Confederate flag on social media.
Harrison defended Kirkconnell’s past in an interview.
On Feb. 9, former Bachelorette Rachel Lindsay interviewed Harrison for Extra. Lindsay asked for the host’s take on Kirkconnell’s past behavior. “We all need to have a little grace, a little understanding, a little compassion,” Harrison told Lindsay. “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.”
He went on to say that he wanted to wait to hear from Kirkconnell before passing judgment. “I haven’t heard Rachael speak on this yet,” Harrison continued. “Until I actually hear this woman have a chance to speak, who am I to say any of this?” And for another star under fire, Here’s Why Everyone’s Mad at Justin Timberlake Right Now.
Lindsay challenged Harrison, who continued to defend Kirkconnell.
“I saw a picture of her at a sorority party five years ago, and that’s it,” Harrison said. Lindsay corrected the host, reminding him that “the picture was from 2018 at an Old South antebellum party, so that’s not a good look.”
Harrison didn’t back down. “Well, Rachel, is it a good look in 2018? Or, is it not a good look in 2021? Because there’s a big difference,” he said. Lindsay countered, “It’s not a good look ever.” She also asked Harrison to think about what it would represent if she were to attend that party as a Black woman.
“You’re 100 percent right in 2021. That was not the case in 2018,” Harrison said, adding “that was a type of party that a lot of people went to.” Although he maintained that he was “not defending it,” he stood his ground.
The following day, Harrison released an apology.
After viewers heavily criticized Harrison following his comments, he posted a lengthy apology on his Instagram. “I am here to extend a sincere apology,” he wrote. “Yesterday, I took a stance on topics about which I should have been better informed.” He said his intention was to “ask for grace in offering [Kirkconnell] an opportunity to speak on her own behalf.”
The host continued, “What I now realize I have done is cause harm by wrongly speaking in a manner that perpetuates racism.” He also apologized to Lindsay “for not listening to better on a topic she has a first-hand understanding of.” And for more up-to-date information on this scandal and other celebrity news, sign up for our daily newsletter.
And Kirkconnell posted an apology, too.
On Feb. 11, Kirkconnell finally publicly addressed her past behavior. The Bachelor contestant also published an apology on her Instagram, taking accountability for her past, and noting that at one point, she didn’t “recognize how offensive and racist” her actions were. “I’m here to say I was wrong. I was ignorant, but my ignorance was racist,” wrote Kirkconnell. She apologized specifically to the communities and individuals that she’s offended and admitted that she’s ashamed about her lack of education. “I am learning and will continue to learn how to be antiracist,” she said.
Kirkconnell closed out the post by acknowledging that the apology is not enough: “I don’t think one apology means that I deserve your forgiveness, but rather I hope I can earn your forgiveness through my future actions.” And for related celebrity news, find out why Star Wars Is Done With This Actor for Good After Anti-Semitic Posts.