The long-running reality show’s host will be missing for an unknown time. He has been criticized for remarks he now admits was unsupportive of racism.
Mr. Harrison stated in an Instagram post that he took the choice after discussing it with ABC and Warner Bros., and added that he would also not engage in the “After the Final Rose Special.” “I invoked the term ‘woke police,’ which is unacceptable,” Mr. Harrison added on Instagram, using an abbreviation for Black and Indigenous people and people of color: “I am ashamed over how uninformed I was. I was so wrong. To the Black community, to the BIPOC community: I am so sorry. My words were harmful.”
A request for comment from ABC, which televises the show, was not immediately responded to. It was unclear what Mr. Harrison’s “stepping down” would entail.
Mr. Harrison’s move and the scandal surrounding his remarks are likely to send shudders through “Bachelor” Nation, dampening a season that includes the first Black bachelor, Matt James.
Mr. Harrison’s statement on Saturday was sparked by his conversation with Ms. Lindsay and included Rachael Kirkconnell, a present contender on the show who is mostly considered to be a front-runner.
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Ms. Kirkconnell has received criticism on social media in recent weeks from users who have posted inflammatory photos and other materials, along with a post in which she “liked” a picture with a Confederate flag and an image of her participating in an “Old South” plantation-themed ball.
Ms. Lindsay questioned Mr. Harrison about the Ms. Kirkconnell controversy, and Mr. Harrison defended her vehemently.
He demanded “grace” and accused Ms. Kirkconnell’s critics of being “judge, jury, and executioner.”
Mr. Harrison seemed to minimize the significance of a picture purportedly showing Ms. Kirkconnell at the “Old South” antebellum-themed party at one point during the interview, drawing backlash from Ms. Lindsay, who, at 31, was put as the initial Black star of “The Bachelorette” in a season that aired in 2017.
Ms. Lindsay then addressed her conversation with Harrison in a podcast she co-hosts on Friday. Mr. Harrison apologized to her, she said, but she was “having a hard time” accepting it.
“I can’t take it anymore,” she said, expressing her displeasure with the franchise’s handling of race. “In some ways, I’m contractually bound, but when it’s up — I’m so — I can’t, I can’t do it anymore.”
Ms. Kirkconnell also apologized on Instagram. While she did not explicitly confirm the authenticity of the photographs and other content online, she stated that her actions were racist.
“I’m here to say I was wrong,” she wrote in her post. “I was ignorant, but my ignorance was racist.”
The series has a dubious past.
When Ms. Lindsay’s season as the inaugural Black bachelorette aired in 2017, one participant’s racist tweets were exposed, and another referred to her as a “girl from the hood.” Her dad is a federal judge in Dallas, where she grew up.
When contestants traveled to Singapore in 2019, they could not understand the city’s extremely known food markets.
When it was discovered that a contestant had modeled White Lives Matter merchandise, she lost the prize of a Cosmopolitan magazine cover in 2020.
Harrison sympathized with Kirkconnell in his interview with Lindsay, implying that the criticism directed at her was unjustified since the photographs were from the earlier days. While Lindsay said, it wasn’t a great angle for Kirkconnell to attend a celebration celebrating the antebellum South — a time period during which slavery was legal — Harrison responded, “Well, Rachel, was it a good look in 2018?” Is it still a good look in 2021? Because there is a significant difference.”