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Chris Harrison Apologizes for ‘Speaking in a Manner That Perpetuates Racism’ During Interview About Bachelor’s Rachael Kirkconnell

Chris Harrison apologized for how he conducted himself during a recent interview with Rachel Lindsay about controversial Bachelor contestant Rachael Kirkconnell.

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“To my Bachelor Nation family — I will always own a mistake when I make one, so I am here to extend a sincere apology,” the 49-year-old host began on Wednesday, February 10, via Instagram. “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.”

Kirkconnell, 24, came under fire after the January 4 premiere of Matt James’ season after a TikTok user alleged that she was racist in high school. In addition to “liking” offensive social media posts, a photo of Kirkconnell and her sorority sisters at Georgia College at a plantation-themed frat party surfaced online earlier this month. While the Bachelor contestant has yet to speak out, Harrison defended her during an interview on Extra with Lindsay, the first Black Bachelorette, on Tuesday, February 9.

Chris Harrison Apologizes for Speaking in a Manner That Perpetuates Racism During Interview About Rachael Kirkconnell
Chris Harrison and Rachael Kirkconnell Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP/Shutterstock; Courtesy Rachael Kirkconnell/Instagram

“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 wrote on Wednesday. “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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In Harrison’s interview with Lindsay, he called the reaction to Kirkconnell’s social media activity “unbelievably alarming.”

He said: “We all need to have a little grace, a little understanding, a little compassion. Because I have seen some stuff online — this judge, jury, executioner thing where people are just tearing this girl’s life apart and diving into, like, her parents, her parents’ voting record. … I haven’t heard Rachael speak on this yet. Until I actually hear this woman have a chance to speak, who am I to say any of this? I saw a picture of her at a sorority party five years ago and that’s it.”

After Lindsay noted that the pictures from the frat party are “not a good look,” Harrison asked, “Is it [not] a good look in 2018 or is it not a good look in 2021?”

The former Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? host insisted that he was “not defending” Kirkconnell but suggested that people aren’t viewing the party “under the same lens” in 2021.

“My guess? These girls got dressed up and went to a party and had a great time, they were 18 years old. Now, does that make it OK? I don’t know Rachel, you tell me,” he told Lindsay. “Were we all looking through [that lens] in 2018?”

Related: Bachelor’s Rachael Kirkconnell: 5 Things to Know

After the season 13 Bachelorette pressed Harrison for answers about why Kirkconnell hasn’t addressed the allegations against her, he said it’s a “slippery slope” for the graphic designer.

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“I saw something that said this person is a registered Republican, therefore they are this … We have to be so careful when we start labeling people,” he said. “Where is the narrative of her falling in love with Matt? When you are trying to react to something on social media, there is no grace … I’m just going to give her the grace and the time to actually come out and speak.”

When a fan tweeted about the interview on Wednesday and noted, “@TheRachLindsay is so generous and giving to this franchise. We do not deserve her,” the former attorney responded, “My days are numbered.”

The Bachelor airs on ABC Mondays at 8 p.m. ET.

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