The long-running host of “The Bachelor” franchise, Chris Harrison, won’t be returning to “The Bachlorette” next season following a racial controversy over his defense of a contestant, according to a statement from the program’s producers Friday.
His future after that is unclear.
Harrison came under fire for defending controversial “Bachelor” contestant Rachael Kirkconnell after photos of her emerged on social media at a 2018 Old South plantation-themed party. She also “liked” social media photos that included Confederate flags, was accused on TikTok of bullying a classmate for dating a Black man and reportedly made comments in support of the QAnon conspiracy theories.
Harrison defended Kirkconnell in a 15-minute rant last month to “Extra” correspondent Rachel Lindsay, who was the reality franchise’s first Black Bachelorette in 2017. He said Kirkconnell deserved “a little grace, a little understanding, a little compassion” — and slammed what he called the “woke police.”
Kirkconnell, who’s still a front-runner on the current season of “The Bachelor,” has since apologized, saying, “I was ignorant, but my ignorance was racist.”
A joint statement by ABC Entertainment and Warner Horizon noted that Harrison “will not be hosting the next season of ‘The Bachelorette.’ We support Chris in the work that he is committed to doing,” it added.
“As we continue the dialogue around achieving greater equity and inclusion within ‘The Bachelor,’ we are dedicated to improving the BIPOC representation of our crew, including among the executive producer ranks.”
Harrison will be temporarily replaced by different alums from the shows, including former “Bachelorette” stars Tayshia Adams and Kaitlyn Bristowe, Variety reported.
Harrison announced last month that he was temporarily stepping away from his role in the franchise. He was replaced as host for “The Bachelor’s” live special, “After the Final Rose,” by Emmanuel Acho, a former NFL linebacker and Fox Sports analyst. Acho, who is Black, hosts a web series called “Uncomfortable Conversations With a Black Man” and wrote a book of the same name.
But it appears Harrison’s absence will be far longer than that.