“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 friends, colleagues and strangers alike. I have no one to blame but myself for what I said and the way I spoke," the 49-year-old host wrote via Instagram on Saturday, February 13. "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 Bros. and ABC and will be stepping aside for a period of time and will not join for the After the Final Rose special."
The ABC personality's announcement came after receiving backlash after speaking about Bachelor season 25 contestant Rachael Kirkconnell‘s ongoing social media scandal. Kirkconnell, 24, was called out by fans online after she was accused of exhibiting racist behavior and attending an antebellum plantation-themed party in 2018. She has since apologized in an Instagram statement. Harrison, for his part, slammed critics of Kirkconnell claiming people needed to have "a little grace, a little understanding, a little compassion" for her. At the time, he told Extra host Lindsay, 35, that he “wasn’t defending” the contestant's actions. Days after the interview went viral, Harrison issued an apology.
In his statement announcing his decision step down as host, the father of two also wrote, "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.” He also promised to "try to evolve and be a better man, and I humble myself before all of you" and apologized to the Black and BIPOC communities.
Once news broke, Bachelor Nation stars like Olivia Caridi, Pieper James and Sharleen Joynt, among others, responded via social media. Cardi, a 28-year-old former contestant, retweeted a Twitter post adding that Lindsay should "absolutely" be hosting in Harrison's absence.