Chris Harrison Officially Leaves The Bachelor Franchise After 19 Years In The Aftermath Of Racism Controversy
Long-time single Chris Harrison is officially leaving the romantic contest show after criticizing his defense of a contestant who attended a plantation-themed party.
Harrison — who has hosted The Bachelor and its spin-offs, The Bachelorette and The Bachelor in Paradise since 2002 — will walk away with an eight-figure payout after months of tense negotiations with WBTV and Disney-owned ABC television, according to according to Deadline.
The outlet said Harrison’s attorney Bryan Freedman had threatened to bring a series of lawsuits against the franchise unless the host received adequate severance pay.
The eight-figure payout comes with a promise to “shut up,” per Deadline.
Deadline reports that longtime host Chris Harrison officially left his position in The Bachelor franchise on Tuesday, after serving as host for 19 years. His departure comes after he faced fierce resistance for defending contestant Rachael Kirkconnell (right) after photos of her surfaced at a formal Old South plantation-themed fraternity party in 2018.
An official announcement about the decision would be made later Tuesday.
The report comes about five months after Harrison came under fire for a year Additional interview in which he appeared to defend a contestant, Rachael Kirkconnell, over 2018 photos that showed her participating in an Old South plantation-themed fraternity formal.
He said in the February interview, “We all need a little grace, a little understanding, a little compassion” towards Kirkconnell amid the turbulent times of the “awake police” and cancellation culture.
“I’ve seen some things online – this judge, jury, executioner thing, where people are tearing up this girl’s life and diving into it, like her parents’ voting behavior,” he said. “It’s incredibly alarming to see this.”
“I haven’t heard Rachael talk about this yet,” Harrison continued. “And until I actually hear this woman speak a chance, who am I to say this.”
Those comments sparked comments online, and Harrison later took to Instagram to clarify his comments.
“While I do not speak for Rachael Kirkconnell, my intention was simply to ask for mercy in offering an opportunity to speak on her behalf,” he wrote. “What I realize I’ve done is harm by speaking inappropriately in a way that perpetuates racism, and I’m deeply sorry for that.”
By Valentine’s Day, Harrison announced that during the show’s first season, he would be “going sideways” with a black bachelor.
Harrison apologized for his comments in the interview with GMA host Michael Strahan in early March, when he admitted he was “insensitive” and “made a mistake” when he vowed to return to the reality show and “be part of the change.”
But his apology was rejected by Strahan, who suggested his remorse was only “superficial” and a ploy by his fellow ABC colleague to get his $8 million-a-year job back.
Harrison apologized in an interview with GMA presenter Michael Strahan in March, saying he was “insensitive” and “made a mistake” (above)
Former bachelors Tayshia Adams and Kaitlyn Bristowe are now co-hosts of the current Bachelorette season, and last week executives announced a rotating roster of hosts for the franchise’s summer show, Bachelor in Paradise.
Kirkconnell, meanwhile, received the final rose from Bachelor Matt James on the March 15 season finale, but in the “After the Rose” special that night, James said he cut things off.
James was reportedly “reluctant to confirm the relationship publicly and outright” because it was “still fresh and they are still having trouble working through,” an unnamed source told Page Six.
“Rachael has already been scrutinized for her past, and now all eyes are on Matt,” the source said. “So he feels the pressure to lead by example for other black men.”
The couple was recently seen together in Miami and the Hamptons.
Bachelor Matt James finally chose Kirkconnell in the season finale