Chris Harrison Apologizes Over Interview on Rachael Kirkconnell’s Alleged Racist Behavior

Chris Harrison
Eric McCandless via Getty Images

The longtime 'Bachelor' host is speaking out.

Chris Harrison has issued an apology. The Bachelor franchise host spoke out on Wednesday, amid backlash for his apparent defense of contestant Rachael Kirkconnell's alleged racist behavior. 

"To my Bachelor Nation family -- I will always own a mistake when I make one, so I am here to extend a sincere apology," Harrison wrote in a statement posted to Instagram Wednesday evening. "I have this incredible platform to speak about love, and yesterday I took a stance on topics about which I should have been better informed."

"While I do not speak for Rachel Kirkconnell, my intentions were simply to ask for grace in offering her an opportunity to speak on her own behalf," he continued. "What I now realize I have done is cause harm by wrongly speaking in a manner that perpetuates racism, and for that I am so deeply sorry."

Harrison also apologized to "my friend Rachel Lindsay for not listening to her better on a topic she has a first-hand understanding of."

"[I] humbly thank the members of Bachelor Nation who have reached out to me to hold me accountable," he concluded. "I promise to do better."

Kirkconnell, a front runner on Matt James' season since his premiere last month, has been the subject of controversy and allegations of racist behavior. Just after the premiere, a TikTok user accused Kirkconnell of bullying her in the past for dating Black men, and last week, another user accused Kirkconnell of liking racist photos. Photos have also surfaced of Kirkconnell at an Old South plantation-themed party while in college. Kirkconnell has yet to release a statement regarding the allegations. 

In an interview with former Bachelorette and Extra correspondent Rachel Lindsay on Tuesday, Harrison addressed those photos of Kirkconnell at an Antebellum party. The host questioned whether the party and Kirkconnell's presence at it was only viewed as wrong now, because of the racial reckoning over the past year. 

"I saw a picture of her at a sorority party five years ago," Harrison said, before Lindsay shared that the photos were taken in 2018, just three years ago. 

"Is it [not] a good look in 2018? Or is it not a good look in 2021?" he replied. "Because there’s a big difference."

Lindsay reminded Harrison that the photos aren't a good look regardless of when they were taken, and pointed out what she would represent at that party.

"You're 100% right in 2021," Harrison said. "That was not the case in 2018." 

Harrison also ignited backlash from fans -- and some Bachelor alums like Mike Johnson -- for his references to the "woke police." He and Lindsay ultimately agreed during the interview that it should be on Kirkconnell to address the allegations against her before The Bachelor or ABC issues any statement. The host also promised to hold Kirkconnell's "feet to the fire" in any interviews after her time on the show.  

In an interview with ET last week, James -- who was revealed as the first Black Bachelor in June following calls for diversity in the franchise -- also said he hopes Kirkconnell will have the opportunity to speak on the allegations. 

"I have not spoken to anybody since the show ended, but I would say that you have to be really careful about what you are doing on social media," James said of the various allegations. "Rumors are dark and nasty and can ruin people's lives. So I would give people the benefit of the doubt, and hopefully she will have her time to speak on that."

"There's a lot of stuff going around about the women that were involved in the show," he added. "I would just give them a chance to kind of have their piece, whether that is someone who was gone night one or someone who went home last night. Everyone has a story, and I would just be receptive to that."