Chris Harrison, the longtime host of "The Bachelor," announced on Instagram that he is stepping away from the franchise "for a period of time" after a recent controversial interview about a current contestant on the show.

What You Need To Know

  • Chris Harrison, the longtime host of "The Bachelor," is temporarily stepping away from the franchise after a recent controversial interview about a current contestant on the show

  • Harrison, in an interview with "Extra," weighed in on the controversy surrounding Rachael Kirkconnell, who recently apologized for past actions she called "offensive and racist"

  • The host apologized for his "harmful" words in the interview: “To the Black community, to the BIPOC community: I am so sorry."

  • The current "Bachelor," Matt James, is the first Black lead in the show's 25 season history

"This historic season of The Bachelor should not be marred or overshadowed by my mistakes or diminished by my actions," Harrison wrote in an Instagram post on Saturday. "To that end, I have consulted with Warner Bros. 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," he added. "I want to ensure our cast and crew members, to 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 came under fire when he participated in an "Extra" interview with former "Bachelorette" interview Rachael Lindsay, where they spoke about the controversy surrounding current "Bachelor" contestant Rachael Kirkconnell. 

Past photos of Kirkconnell resurfaced in which she is dressed in costume as a Native American and at an antebellum plantation themed ball. She also has been criticized for allegedly liking Confederate Flag-related TikTok posts. Kirkconnell recently apologized for past actions, which she called "offensive and racist."

"I was ignorant, but my ignorance was racist," she wrote on Instagram. "I am sorry to the communities and individuals that my actions harmed and offended. I am ashamed about my lack of education, but it is no one's responsibility to educate me."

"I deserve to be held accountable for my actions," she continued. "I will never grow unless I recognize what I have done is wrong. I don't think one apology means that I deserve your forgiveness, but rather I hope I can earn your forgiveness through my future actions."

In the interview with Lindsay, Harrison made the case that Kirkconnell's actions were in the past and defended her against what he called the “woke police” on social media. “We all need to have a little grace, a little understanding, a little compassion," he said in the interview.

"The picture was from 2018 at an Old South antebellum party," Lindsay responded. "That’s not a good look."

Harrison replied, "Well, Rachel, is it a good look in 2018? Or, is it not a good look in 2021? Because there’s a big difference."

"It’s not a good look ever," Lindsay said, adding, "If I went to that party, what would I represent at that party?"

In a statement earlier this week, Harrison apologized for his defense of Kirkconnell in the interview: "By excusing historical racism, I defended it. I invoked the term 'woke police,' which is unacceptable. I am ashamed over how uninformed I was. I was so wrong."

“To the Black community, to the BIPOC community: I am so sorry," Harrison wrote in his Saturday statement. "My words were harmful. I am listening, and I truly apologie 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."

Lindsay, after the interview, said that she will not renew her contract with the franchise: “I’m f****** tired. I’m exhausted. I have truly had enough."

It was unclear who will step in for Harrison at the After the Final Rose special, nor was it clear how long he would step away from the franchise.

The current "Bachelor," Matt James, is the first Black lead in the show's 25 season history.