Chris Harrison Faces Bachelor Nation Backlash After Addressing Rachael Kirkconnell Scandal

Chris Harrison Faces Bachelor Nation Backlash After Addressing Rachael Kirkconnell Scandal
Source: Shutterstock;ABC/Craig Sjodin

Feb. 11 2021, Published 4:10 p.m. ET

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After Chris Harrison addressed the scandal surrounding Bachelor season 25 contestant Rachael Kirkconnell's ongoing social media scandal, the 49-year-old television host received major backlash from Bachelor Nation members.

On Wednesday, February 10, he issued an apology via Instagram. "I will always own a mistake when I make one, so I am here to extend a sincere apology," he wrote. "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 Rachael Kirkconnell, my intentions were simply to ask for grace in offering her an opportunity to speak on her own behalf.”

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The 24-year-old graphic designer was called out by fans following the premiere of Matt James' season last month. At the time, several TikTok videos went viral claiming Kirkconnell exhibited racist behavior. One user said the Bachelor contestant "bullied" her in high school for "liking Black guys.” Another showed a series of controversial Instagram posts "liked" by Kirkconnell. More recently, photos of the reality show star and her sorority sisters in 2018 at an antebellum plantation-themed party also surfaced online. She has yet to comment.

When Harrison was asked about the controversy during a conversation on Extra with former Bachelorette Rachel Lindsay, he said, "We all need to have a little grace, a little understanding, a little compassion. 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?”

While the host clarified that he "wasn't defending" Kirkconnell, his comments received backlash from former Bachelor Nation contestants including Olivia Caridi, Ashley Spivey and Natasha Parker, among others.

Harrison concluded Wednesday's apology with, “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. I also apologize to my friend Rachel Lindsay for not listening to her better on a topic she has first-hand understanding of, and humbly thank the members of Bachelor Nation who have reached out to me to hold me accountable. I promise to do better.”

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