“I made a mistake,” he said of defending the posts of one of the main candidates, those Strahan called “racist.”
This is the first season in almost 20 years that “The Bachelor” stars a black man in the lead: Matt James, a 29-year-old real estate broker from New York. Last month, Harrison announced he would step down and not host the episode of “After the Final Rose” after defending candidate Rachael Kirkconnell. According to Internet detectives, Kirkconnell had “liked” a message from friends posing in front of a Confederate flag; shared an Instagram post whose language echoed QAnon’s extremist ideology; dressed in a Native American costume; and attended an ‘Old South’ themed party at college in 2018. She has since apologized and is one of three remaining Bachelor candidates Matt James.
Shortly after these social media posts were posted, Harrison did an interview on “Extra” with Rachel Lindsay, the show’s first Black Bachelorette of 2017. In this conversation, Harrison apologized for Kirkconnell’s actions, claiming he was not ‘the police awake’ and noting that while Kirkconnell’s posts weren’t acceptable in 2021, they weren’t such a misstep just a few years ago.
Lindsay brushed off that notion, both in the interview and later, saying that by defending Kirkconnell, Harrison’s privilege was on display. “He never gave me room to speak, and he never gave me room to share my point of view,” Lindsay said on Higher Learning, a podcast she co-hosted. “He wasn’t trying to hear it, he was just trying to be heard. Lindsay has since received so much hate on Instagram that she has deactivated her account.
On “Good Morning America,” Harrison was more contrite. When Strahan asked Harrison why he would defend Kirkconnell, he said, “I am an imperfect man. I made a mistake. And I own this. I believe this error does not reflect who I am or what I represent. I am committed to progress – not just for myself, but for the franchise as well. “
When Strahan asked Harrison if there was a difference between 2018 and 2021, this time Harrison said no. “Antebellum celebrations are not good – past, present, future. Knowing what that represents is unacceptable. “
Harrison also apologized directly to Lindsay, who is still affiliated with the Bachelor franchise. She co-hosts the ABC-sponsored “Bachelor Happy Hour” podcast with Becca Kufrin, another former Bachelorette. “I am saddened and shocked to see how insensitive I was in this interview with Rachel Lindsay, and I did not speak with my heart, which is to say: I am against all forms of racism” Harrison said. “And I am deeply sorry. I’m sorry for Rachel Lindsay and I’m sorry for the black community.
Harrison also spoke directly to Bachelor fans, telling them to stop “throwing hate” at Lindsay, adding, “This is unacceptable.”
Harrison’s tone on Thursday with Strahan was remarkably different from the defense he used with Lindsay. Strahan noted that Harrison worked with a breed educator and strategist, and sought advice from Michael Eric Dyson, a prominent black minister and scholar. “Racism, oppression – these are big dynamic issues. And they take a job seriously – and I’m committed to that job, ”Harrison said.
While Harrison takes some time to host “The Bachelor,” Emmanuel Acho, former NFL player and author of the book and YouTube series “Uncomfortable Conversations with a Man,” will host “After the Final Rose.”
Harrison said he plans to return as a Bachelor host soon. “There is still a lot to do and I am delighted to be a part of this change.”
Strahan sounded skeptical. After his conversation with Harrison, Strahan turned to his co-presenters George Stephanopoulos and Robin Roberts and said, “I felt I had nothing more than a surface response to all of this. … But only time will tell if there is any meaning behind his words.