“I think this franchise can be an important beacon of change,” he told Michael Strahan on Good Morning America. “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 departed the show for an undisclosed time period amid the controversy over comments he made during an Extra interview, in which he defended a contestant on the show. Rachael Kirkconnell’s social media photos showed that in 2018, she attended an antebellum plantation-themed fraternity formal. There also was another post that showed she “liked” a photo containing a Confederate flag. The posts created a furor on social media.
Harrison apologized again for the comments during the GMA interview, but afterward Strahan told the other GMA hosts, “His apology is his apology, but it felt like I got nothing more than a surface response on any of this. But obviously he is a man who wants to clearly stay on the show, but only time will tell if there is any meaning behind his words.”
In the interview with Extra correspondent Rachel Lindsay, the show’s first Black bachelorette, Harrison seemed to suggest that Kirkconnell was a victim of “cancel culture.”
Harrison called his comments during the Extra interview a “mistake.”
“I believe that mistake doesn’t reflect who I am or what I stand for. I am committed to the progress, not just for myself but also for the franchise,” he said. “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 the Extra interview, Harrison also said that there was a difference of context between 2018, when the antebellum party occurred, and not. But Lindsay said that “it’s not a good look ever because she’s representing the Old South.”
Pressed on this during the Good Morning America interview on whether there is a difference between going to such a party in 2018 vs. 2021, Harrison told Strahan, “There is not. Antebellum parties are not OK: Past present future. Knowing what that represents is unacceptable.”
In the interview, Strahan pointed out this season was “supposed to be a turning point for the show” in that it featured the first Black bachelor in its history after two decades on the air, a move that “had already been criticized as too little, to late by quite a few people.”
“Now it is being overshadowed by controversy over racism but not just by a contestant on the show but also by its own host and you are the face of the show,” Strahan said. “So my question is, why would you defend Rachael Kirkconnell?”
“I am an imperfect man. I made a mistake, and I own that,” Harrison said.
Harrison said that he also apologized to Lindsay, who has experienced harassment online.
“To anyone who is throwing hate towards Rachel Lindsay, please stop. It is unacceptable,” he said.
Harrison said that he was “saddened and shocked at how insensitive I was in that interview with Rachel Lindsay.”
“I didn’t speak from my heart, and that is to say I stand against all forms of racism,” he said.
“I am not a victim here. I made a mistake and I own that,” Harrison said. He said that he has been working closely with race educators and strategists, including Michael Eric Dyson.
“Dr. Dyson often talks to me about council, not cancel, and that is full accountability, understanding what you didn’t understand, owning that, learning from that, seeking counsel often in the community that you hurt, learning from them, listening, gaining experience, knowledge and moving forward,” he said.
Kirkconnell also has apologized, and said in a statement, “I am ashamed about my lack of education, but it’s no one’s responsibility to educate me.”
The full interview is here.
EXCLUSIVE: “It was a mistake.” #TheBachelor host Chris Harrison apologizes for defending frontrunner Rachael Kirkconnell’s past racist social media posts, telling @michaelstrahan he is an “imperfect man” who is “committed to progress.” https://t.co/OfPBBzGd9s pic.twitter.com/0EgbKV99DV
— Good Morning America (@GMA) March 4, 2021
PREVIOUSLY: Chris Harrison sat down with Michael Strahan of Good Morning America for his first interview since stepping aside as host of The Bachelor, and, in a clip released by ABC News, said that his defense of a contestant was a “mistake.”
“I made a mistake. I am an imperfect man. I made a mistake. And I own that,” Harrison told Strahan.
TOMORROW ON @GMA: @chrisbharrison is speaking out for the first time since stepping down from hosting duties on #TheBachelor last month in an exclusive interview with @michaelstrahan airing TOMORROW. https://t.co/wmtSZrBI99
— Good Morning America (@GMA) March 3, 2021
The full interview with Strahan will air on Thursday.
It was during an interview with Extra correspondent Rachel Lindsay in which Harrison spoke out about contestant Rachael Kirkconnell’s social media photos which showed the 24-year-old attending an antebellum plantation-themed fraternity formal in 2018. The photos drew a furor on social media.
In the Extra interview, Harrison said that it was necessary to show “a little grace, a little understanding, a little compassion” for Kirkconnell. He said that he was not defending the antebellum party, but said that people are not looking at the event “under the same lens” three years ago.
“It’s not a good look ever,” Lindsay said. “She’s celebrating the old South. If I went to that party, what would I represent?”
Harrison later apologized and said that he would be stepping aside as host of The Bachelor for an unspecified period of time. He also will not appear on the After the Final Rose live special after the show’s finale. Instead, Emmanuel Acho will host the special.
“I am dedicated to getting educated on a more profound and productive level than ever before,” he said in a statement last month.
Kirkconnell also apologized, and said in a statement, “I am ashamed about my lack of education, but it’s no one’s responsibility to educate me.”
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