'Bachelor' franchise star Rachel Lindsay says Chris Harrison made 'right decision' to step aside as host

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Rachel Lindsay is speaking out after her interview with “Bachelor” host Chris Harrison that led to him stepping away from the franchise. 

Lindsay, who made history as the first Black Bachelorette, interviewed Harrison and asked about contestant Rachel Kirkonnell’s past racist behavior that included attending an “Old South” themed party at a plantation in 2018. Harrison ended up defending Kirkonnell in the interview, which prompted backlash and ultimately led to his decision to step aside for a time of personal reflection.

Speaking to Extra’s Billy Bush on Monday, Lindsay opened up about the controversy, admitting that she believes Harrison is making the right decision by stepping down. 

“Chris has stepped aside, which I think is the right decision because, like he said, he needs to take time to get educated and on a profound and productive level to use his word,” Lindsay explained. “And I think he needs to understand what was done, what was wrong, and what he said in that interview, and he needs time. He’s stepped away to do that.”

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When asked how she felt after the interview concluded, she noted that she was “stunned” by the stance that Harison was taking.

“Not at what was being said, because as Chris referenced in that interview, we have had these conversations,” she said. “I wasn’t shocked at the content of what he was saying… in public, where other people can hear what you think, and your, your thoughts may be a bit controversial, but I remember also thinking, ‘This is something that needs to be heard. This is something that needs to be seen.’ And I felt a duty.”

Rachel Lindsay spoke out about her explosive interview with Chris Harrison of ‘The Bachelor.’
(ABC)

Specifically, Lindsay noted that she regrets not calling Harrison out further when he tried to say that the “Old South” party may have looked different when viewed through a 2021 lens rather than a 2018 lens.

“I wish I would have said, particularly when he talked about the difference between 2018 and 2021, when he said ‘was it not a good look there, or was it not… a good look in 2021?’ I wish I would have said, ‘What do you mean by that? What was the difference in 2018?’ He kept talking about this lens, that we were looking at things through 2018 versus 2021 — I wish I had asked him to explain that,” she said.

Harrison was quick to issue an apology for his words following the interview. He took to Instagram the next day to issue a statement admitting that he did wrong and vowing to be “better informed” when he speaks in the future.

“I have this incredible platform to speak about love, and yesterday I took a stance on topics which I should have been better informed,” he wrote. “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.”

Chris Harrison faced backlash over comments he made during a recent interview with former ‘Bachelorette’ Rachel Lindsay.
(Paul Archuleta/Getty Images)

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Despite the apology, the backlash did not subside, prompting him to issue another apology days later in which he announced he was stepping aside as host of the ABC franchise. 

“I have spent the last few days listening to the pain my words have caused, and I am deeply remorseful. My ignorance did damage to my friends, colleagues and strangers alike. I have no one to blame but myself for what I said and the way I spoke,” he wrote in a lengthy statement shared on Instagram Saturday. 

Speaking to Bush, Lindsay noted that she is having trouble accepting Harrison’s apology since it only came after he faced criticism.

Rachel Lindsay criticized Chris Harrison’s apology ahead of him stepping away from ‘The Bachelor’ franchise.
(ABC)

“It’s a little hard for me, because I lived the experience… There was no apology. The apology came after the fact. So it’s hard for me to fully accept it,” she explained. “I’m going to need that time and space and compassion that he referenced to really accept the apology, because [Chris wasn’t] apologetic at first… I’m not saying I can’t get there, it’s just, initially, it’s a little tough for me.”

The former “Bachelorette” star stopped short of saying that the franchise should continue on without Harrison for good, noting the steps he’s already taken to rectify the situation. However, she noted that she is having trouble seeing a path forward for “The Bachelor” with so many people upset at Harrison. 

While the star and many fans clearly agree with the decision for Harrison to take a break from his hosting duties on the show, several people don’t believe that the host needs to pay any more penance than he has. 

“Me trying to find a tweet explainin (sic) what Chris Harrison did,” wrote one person using a gif of The Weeknd from the Super Bowl.

“My wife and I support you Chris and cannot wait to have you back on the Bachelor! People make mistakes, they own them, they move on! Stay strong!” one user wrote.

“I’m here to show some support for Chris Harrison as a long time loyal bachelor fan. The show would never be the same without him. I am so sad and angry at the outlash he has received for speaking openly and honestly.  I am tired of cancel culture. People need to be able to speak,” a third person wrote.

“Let everyone remember that this is the same @chrisbharrison that we’ve known for last 20 years. I still support him. #TheBachelor,” someone else added.

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Lindsay has previously spoken out against the show over its lack of diversity. Back in June, she said she was “excited” that Matt James was named the first black “Bachelor” but took issue with the timing of his casting, which followed nationwide outrage over the death of George Floyd on May 25, 2020.

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Most recently, she admitted on her “Higher Learning” podcast that she’s planning to step away from the franchise once her contractual obligations to it are up.

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