After 19 years as host, Chris Harrison is exiting The Bachelor. The news comes four months after he stepped away from the show after controversial statements defending a contestant from allegations of racism (via Deadline).
During the 2021 season of The Bachelor, contestant Rachael Kirkconnell came under fire for her online presence. Her social media interactions purportedly included posts with the Confederate flag and QAnon conspiracies, and in 2018, she attended an “Old South” plantation-themed party.
In February, Harrison gave an interview with Rachel Lindsay, who had become the first-ever Black Bachelorette in 2017, and defended Kirkconnell’s past behavior. “Well, Rachel, is it a good look in 2018, or is it not a good look in 2021?” he said. “Because there’s a big difference. Where is this lens we’re holding up and was this lens available, and were we all looking through it in 2018?”
He added, “I’m not defending Rachael, I just know that, I don’t know, 50 million people did that in 2018. That was a type of party that a lot of people went too. … Where is this lens we’re holding up and was this lens available, and were we all looking through it in 2018?”
Harrison received pushback immediately from Lindsay, who said Kirkconnell’s behavior was “not a good look ever.” As the controversy grew in the days afterwards, Harrison issued an apology for “wrongly speaking in a manner that perpetuates racism.” He wrote, “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.”
His time ends with a confidential settlement, which is reportedly in the mid-eight-figures. Through his lawyer, he had been threatening a swarm of lawsuits that would reveal some skeletons in The Bachelor‘s closet. The settlement purportedly required Harrison to pledge silence.
The long-running reality competition had already found a temporary host for one of its many iterations, with David Spade guest-hosting the upcoming Bachelor in Paradise.