He may no longer deliver the final rose, but Chris Harrison isn’t letting go of Bachelor Nation. The former host is launching a new podcast with a title that pays homage to the franchise — and addressing his controversial exit for the first time.
“I’m a little nervous. I have not spoken publicly for two years about this and I have a lot of thoughts. I think about this every day. Truly, every day of my life I think about this and what I want to say,” the 51-year-old former ABC personality began in the trailer for “The Most Dramatic Podcast Ever … With Chris Harrison,” which iHeartRadio dropped on Monday, December 19. “And how important it is that I speak to everybody for the first time. So it’s heavy. It’s really heavy. We’ll see how it goes. We may scrap this whole thing to be honest, I don’t know.”
Harrison concluded: “But I think it will be cathartic. I’m looking forward to getting this off my shoulders and repairing this, moving forward, and letting everybody hear from me.”
The official description for the show reads: “Fans can expect to hear Chris open up like never before. Using his unparalleled expertise, he will dig into all things relationships every week. Fans will no longer just be going along for the ride, they’ll be up close and personal with Chris as he navigates through dating, marriage, love, loss, and more. For the first time ever, Chris will discuss everything, and there’s no telling what he will have to say.”
Fans will recall the Perfect Letter author came under fire in February 2021 while promoting Matt James’ season of The Bachelor during an interview with former Bachelorette Rachel Lindsay. At the time, the Extra correspondent asked the longtime host about resurfaced photos of contestant Rachael Kirkconnell at a college party in an antebellum-style dress.
“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,” Harrison said. “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?”
He continued at the time: “Who is Rachel Lindsay and who is Chris Harrison and who is whatever woke police person out there, who are you? I’ve heard this a lot of, ‘I think she should,’ ‘I think he should.’ Who the hell are you? Who are you that you demand that?”
The interview sparked instant backlash, with many fans questioning why Harrison felt compelled to defend Kirkconnell so passionately. Other viewers directed hate at Lindsay, to whom Harrison later apologized.
“I do accept the apology,” Lindsay said in March 2021 after Harrison addressed the controversy on Good Morning America as ABC pulled him from hosting James’ After the Final Rose special. “And I think it’s important for me to say that because I haven’t really talked about, you know, Chris and the statement because I’m not trying to make this a Chris-versus-Rachel. But the fact that, once again, you know — this isn’t the first time he’s apologized to me — he apologized again on GMA today and I do accept that and I think it’s important for me to say that because we need to move forward. And for me, for us to move forward, I need to accept the apology, so we can all be better from this situation, which is what we want.”
That same month, ABC announced former leads Kaitlyn Bristowe and Tayshia Adams would host Katie Thurston‘s season 17 of The Bachelorette. Harrison’s permanent exit was announced in June 2021. (Jesse Palmer took over in 2022.)
“Chris Harrison is stepping aside as host of The Bachelor franchise. We are thankful for his many contributions over the past 20 years and wish him all the best on his new journey,” Warner Horizon and ABC Entertainment said in a statement at the time.
Kirkconnell, for her part, won James’ season — but the twosome split amid the scandal as she apologized for her past actions. They later reunited and are still dating. In his memoir, James, the first Black Bachelor, spoke about how disappointed he was with what the show chose to focus on — but he didn’t mention Harrison by name.
“I hate beating a dead horse and everything’s played out how it’s played out and there’s no need to go back [to] something that we’ve talked so much about because unfortunately, those type of conversations overshadowed context that I would’ve liked to have been applied to the season that would’ve answered a bunch of questions,” James said on Us Weekly’s “Here for the Right Reasons” podcast in May. “They had things that I talked about and discussed and went into in-depth in my dates and on group dates and on one-on-ones that never aired. So I didn’t wanna take any more time to talk about that stuff. I wanted to focus on themes that I felt could really help people and I don’t think that going back on that would be any help to anybody.”
Months later, Kirkconnell gave a rare interview about the situation, addressing Harrison’s motives behind defending her so strongly.
“I didn’t even know he was doing that interview. My phone was blowing up like everyone else’s. … I had no idea. … The ignorant side of me wants to be, like, ‘It’s because I was the final one and he was trying to save, like, the fact that we were together,’” Kirkconnell said on the “Ya, But Who Cares” podcast in October. “If he would have cut [himself] short right then and there, said the one sentence like, ‘Let’s just let them have their time.’ He could have ended it like that. But obviously, that wasn’t the case because of everything else that was said afterward. So it’s not the reason.”
While varying reports about Harrison’s settlement money surfaced following his exit, he has stayed mum — until now. “The Most Dramatic Podcast Ever … With Chris Harrison” drops its first episode on January 9, 2023.