Bachelor host Chris Harrison is taking a step back from his hosting duties on the ABC franchise amid his controversial comments about Matt James‘ contestant Rachael Kirkconnell‘s racism scandal.

“I have spent the last few days listening to the pain my words have caused and I am deeply remorseful. My ignorance did damage to my friends, my colleagues and strangers alike,” the 49-year-old wrote in a statement via Instagram on Saturday, February 13. “I have no one to blame but myself for what I said and the way I spoke. I set standards for myself and I have not met them. I feel that with every fiber of my being. Now, just as I taught my children to stand up, and to own their actions, I will do the same.”

The host added, “This historic season of The Bachelor should not be marred or overshadowed by my mistakes or diminished by my actions. To that end, I have consulted with Warner Brothers and ABC and will be stepping aside for a period of time and will not join for the After the Final Rose special.”

“I am dedicated to getting educated on a more profound and productive level than ever before,” the Texas native continued. “I want to ensure our cast and crew members, my friends, colleagues and our fans: This is not just a moment but a commitment to much greater understanding that I will actively make every day.”

Harrison also had words for the BIPOC fans in his statement. “To the Black community, to the BIPOC community,” he wrote. “I am so sorry. My words were harmful. I am listening and I truly apologize for my ignorance and any pain it caused you. I want to give my heartfelt thanks to the people from these communities who I’ve had enlightening conversations with over the past few days, and I am so grateful to those who have reached out to help me on my path to anti-racism.”

 

Bachelor Nation alum Rachel Lindsay interviewed Harrison on Extra on Tuesday, February 9, about the accusations of bullying and racism against Kirkconnell.

“First and foremost, I don’t know. I haven’t talked to Rachael about it. And this is, again, where we all need to have a little grace, a little understanding, a little compassion,” Chris said during his interview with Rachel. “Because I’ve seen some stuff online — again this judge-jury-executioner thing — where people are just tearing this girl’s life apart and diving into, like, her parents and her parents’ voting record. It’s unbelievably alarming to watch this. I haven’t heard Rachael speak on this yet. And until I actually hear this woman have a chance to speak, who am I to say any of this?”

 

During the interview, Lindsay also highlighted resurfaced photos of Kirkconnell attending an antebellum-themed fraternity party at a plantation in 2018. The season 13 Bachelorette said the photos were “not a good look” for the contestant amid the accusations.

“You’re 100 percent right in 2021,” Harrison said. “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.”

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