The Bachelor host Chris Harrison said he plans to temporarily step aside from the franchise amid the controversy involving contestant Rachel Kirkconnell and his comments defending her. However, since the ongoing season with the first Black Bachelor, Matt James, has already been filmed, he would only be missing from the live After The Rose Special that airs after the finale. That could change, though, according to sources who spoke with Us Weekly Friday.
"There have been conversations about somehow cutting Chris Harrison out from some of the prerecorded episodes or at least some of the portions," the source told the magazine. "If not, they may add a disclaimer at the top of the remaining episodes." The source also said there was talk among producers about postponing the new season of The Bachelorette. Usually, right after The Bachelor finishes, The Bachelorette begins production. A delay would give Harrison more time away from the franchise.
Back on Feb. 13, Harrison announced he would be stepping away from the franchise in the fallout of his Extra interview with former Bachelorette Rachel Lindsay about Kirkconnell. The contestant became controversial after photos of her attending an "Old South" theme party surfaced. There were also claims that she liked social media posts with the Confederate flag. Kirkconnell has apologized for her actions and is considered a frontrunner for James' final rose.
In the interview with Lindsay before Kirkconnell's apology, Harrison appeared to defend Kirkconnell. When Lindsay pointed out that Kirkconnell attending the controversial party was "not a good look," Harrison asked, "Is it a good look in 2018, or is it not a good look in 2021?" Harrison later said, "You're 100 percent right in 2021. That was not the case in 2018. And again, I'm not defending Rachael. I just know that; I don't know; 50 million people did that in 2018? That was a type of party that a lot of people went to. And again, I'm not defending it. I didn't go to it." He also criticized social media users calling out Kirkconnell as the "woke police."
"Hello everyone, I have spent the last few days listening to the pain my words have caused, and I am deeply remorseful," Harrison wrote on Instagram. "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." Harrison said it was "unacceptable" for him to say "woke police," adding that he is "ashamed over how uninformed I was. I was so wrong." Despite Harrison's decision to step down, he still appeared on Monday's episode of The Bachelor, which left some viewers confused. New episodes air Mondays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.