Ex-"Bachelor" Host Chris Harrison Breaks Silence on Being Canceled: "I Was Being Used."
The reality host left the franchise in 2021 after 19 years and a controversial interview.
In the summer of 2021, the Bachelor franchise went through a major change. After 19 years, host Chris Harrison left the reality TV mainstay following a controversial interview about a former contestant. Now, seven months after announcing his departure, the 51-year-old has opened up about his experience being "canceled" on his new podcast, The Most Dramatic Podcast Ever.
On the first episode—which was released on Jan. 9 and is divided into two hour-long parts—Harrison talks about stepping down and how he felt amid the backlash against him, including why he thinks he "was being used." Read on to see what the former reality host had to say.
Harrison's ordeal began with a 2021 interview.
In February 2021, Harrison was interviewed on Extra by former Bachelorette star Rachel Lindsay. She asked the host about Rachael Kirkconnell, a contestant on the season of The Bachelor that was airing at the time. Photos had surfaced of the contestant at an antebellum plantation-themed party in 2018. (Kirkconnell apologized soon after the interview aired.)
Harrison immediately defended Kirkconnell against criticism. At one point, he asked Lindsay, "Is it not a good look in 2018 or is it not a good look in 2021?" To this, the Extra anchor responded, "It's not a good look ever." Harrison also repeatedly brought up the "woke police" for coming after Kirkconnell.
He apologized after the interview aired.
Harrison quickly faced backlash for the interview and apologized. In a statement posted to Instagram (via People), Harrison wrote, "To my Bachelor Nation family—I will always own a mistake when I make one, so I am here to extend a sincere apology. I have this incredible platform to speak about love, and yesterday I took a stance on topics 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."
He continued, "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 also apologized for not listening more to Lindsay and to fans of the show.
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He says he struggled in the aftermath.
On his new podcast, Harrison talked about the tense period after his Extra comments went viral and how it affected his health.
"I was heartbroken. I was gutted. I was embarrassed," he said. "I was mad at myself. I was disappointed in myself. The last thing in the world I ever wanted to do was be an agent of anything negative, whether it had to do with race or anything … For my part in this, I was sick, sick to my stomach. And I lost 20 pounds. I didn't sleep, I didn't eat." He also explained that paparazzi were stationed outside of his home "for weeks."
He felt like his apology wasn't heard.
Harrison explained that even though someone in his life told him it was a mistake to apologize, he knew it was the right thing to do. And he believed that the apology would be accepted, enabling him to move on. But he claimed that the state of the country at the time, in terms of the politicized COVID-19 pandemic and civil rights issues being at the forefront, meant that his apology wasn't really heard.
"I had no problem putting out that first apology," Harrison said. "It was a written apology I put out on Instagram. But there was just so much noise at the time, it just didn't matter. Apologies didn't matter … Even after that apology, we were still at ground zero. And it was confusing and it was scary."
He felt he was used by both sides of the political divide.
Harrison claimed that because of the timing of the incident, he was "used" as a cultural and political prop.
"My name became synonymous with this political, lightning-in-a-bottle moment, and all of a sudden someone on CNN is talking about me for purposes of the left," he said. "And then Ben Shapiro and whoever on Fox is talking about me, conservative and this is what's wrong with the world, so I was being used by the right."
The host also expressed that he felt like other Bachelor franchise stars, who talked about him on podcasts and in interviews, took advantage of the situation too.
He said, "I thought this will go away, this will pass. And everyday I woke up and there was something new."