Chris Harrison is permanently leaving ABC’s reality dating series “The Bachelor” after coming under fire earlier this year for defending a contestant’s racist behavior in the past.
Chris Harrison steps aside as host of The Bachelor franchise. We are grateful for his many contributions over the past 20 years and wish him all the best on his new journey,” Warner Horizon and ABC Entertainment said in a statement sent to NBC News on Tuesday.
He said he was excited to start a new chapter after an “incredible run” hosting the franchise in a… statement posted on his Instagram.
“I’m so grateful to Bachelor Nation for all the memories we made together,” Harrison said. “As my two-decade journey draws to a close, the friendships I’ve made will last a lifetime.”
Harrison, who has hosted the popular franchise for nearly 20 years, stepped down from his role in February after defending former “Bachelor” contestant Rachael Kirkconnell, who was seen in photos at a 2018 plantation-themed antebellum fraternity. Harrison made the comments in defense of Kirkconnell during an “Extra” interview with former “Bachelorette” Rachel Lindsay .
In his interview with Lindsay, Harrison expressed sympathy for Kirkconnell and suggested that the criticism of her was unfair because the photos were from the past. When Lindsay said it didn’t look good for Kirkconnell to attend a party celebrating the antebellum South — a time when slavery existed — Harrison said, “Well, Rachel, is it looking good in 2018? Or isn’t it looking good in 2021? good look? Because there is a big difference.”
“It never looks good,” Lindsay, who is Black, said in response. “If I went to that party, what would I represent at that party?”
Harrison, who is white, later admitted he “made a mistake” in an interview with ABC News’ “Good Morning America”.
“I’m an imperfect man, I made a mistake and that’s me,” Harrison told “GMA” co-host Michael Strahan. “I believe that error does not reflect who I am or what I stand for. I am committed to progress not only for myself, but also for the franchise.”
Harrison said in his interview that he is seeking guidance from a “race educator and strategist” who will teach him to learn from this experience and move forward. He added that his departure was “not the finish line”.
“There is still a lot more work to be done,” he said.
His departure came within a day of the 17th season premiere of “The Bachelorette,” which aired Monday. The show is currently a guest hosted by former bachelors Tayshia Adams and Kaitlyn Bristowe.