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Ben Higgins and Ashley Iaconetti React to Fan Backlash They Received for Calling Out Hannah Brown After N-Word Controversy

Doubling down. Ben Higgins and Ashley Iaconetti addressed the negativity they received for holding Hannah Brown accountable after she said the N-word on Instagram Live.

Related: Bachelor Nation Stars on Hannah Brown Using N-Word

“Hannah says the N-word, and then Hannah disappears, doesn’t say anything. Like, she’s gone. And we get criticism on this podcast because we said that Hannah was wrong for what she did. That’s about where we left it,” the former Bachelor, 31, said during the latest episode of “The Ben and Ashley I. Almost Famous Podcast,” released on Wednesday, June 3. “And Ashley, I’ll stick to that. Now, there is more to the story here.”

Iaconetti, 32, then clarified that the response “wasn’t that bad but there were people out there.” She added that she and Higgins “never insinuated canceling her,” while he noted that they would “never” dismiss Brown, 25, because of the ordeal.

Ben Higgins and Ashley Iaconetti React to Fan Backlash They Received for Calling Out Hannah Brown After N-Word Controversy
Ben Higgins, Ashley Iaconetti, and Hannah Brown. Shutterstock (3)

Related: Hannah Brown’s Evolution

“My hope is that we turn to forgiving, loving, accepting Hannah but recognizing what she did was wrong. What she said was wrong,” Higgins continued. “If you’re a Hannah fan, I urge you to hear what I’m saying. What she said was not right. Her apology was not great. She blamed her brother, and she posted on Instagram originally. Two weeks later, she comes out with an apology that I hope we can all listen to — as friends, as family, as fans. I hope we can hear what Hannah says and hey, she has a lot to learn, but she’s not saying she was all right.”

The Indiana native went on to suggest that those whom Brown offended were willing to move on. “Hannah made a mistake. I think everybody was begging for her to apologize and speak out because we were ready to forgive,” he said. “I think the black community — from my friends that are black, from what Rachel Lindsay has said, what Mike Johnson has said — they were ready to forgive.”

Brown made headlines in May when she sang the N-word in DaBaby’s “Rockstar.” She initially claimed she was not the one who said the slur and apologized if she “accidentally” used it.

Related: Most Intense ‘Bachelor’ and ‘Bachelorette’ Scandals of All Time

The former Bachelorette later posted a formal apology on her Instagram Story. “There is no excuse and I will not justify what I said. I have read your messages and seen the hurt I have caused,” she wrote. “I own it all. I am terribly sorry and know that whether in public or private, this language is unacceptable. I promise to do better.”

Brown returned to the public eye on Saturday, May 30, to elaborate on her mea culpa. “Do not defend me,” she told her followers in an Instagram Live video. “What I did and what I said was indefensible. Do not send hateful messages to people who are holding me accountable. … Go on this journey with me. Take the resources that I have and let’s go on this journey together. … I am no longer ignorant and I am no longer going to be part of the problem.”

A source told Us Weekly exclusively last month that the reality star was “really embarrassed and ashamed,” adding that the N-word “is not and never has been a part of Hannah’s vocabulary.”

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