Taking accountability. Chris Harrison appeared on ABC’s Celebrity Wheel of Fortune weeks after stepping away from his Bachelor host duties — and the network took a clear stance amid the backlash.
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The Texas native, 49, competed for a good cause alongside Alfonso Ribeiro and Robert Herjavec on the Thursday, February 25, episode of the long-running game show. As he prepared to spin the wheel, a disclaimer popped up at the bottom of the screen.
“This episode was previously recorded in December 2020,” it read.
Earlier this month, Harrison spoke with former Bachelorette Rachel Lindsay — the franchise’s first Black female lead — to discuss allegations brought up against season 25 Bachelor contestant Rachael Kirkconnell. During the interview, Harrison urged viewers to have “compassion” for Kirkconnell, 24, whose racially insensitive social media posts resurfaced as she vied for Matt James’ heart.
“I have seen some stuff online. Again, this judge, jury, executioner thing where people are just tearing this girl’s life apart … I saw a picture of her at a sorority party five years ago, that’s it,” he told Lindsay, 35, calling out the “woke police” for taking the situation too far.
After his comments sparked an uproar, the Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? host issued a public apology via Instagram. He later announced his plans to step back from the remainder of James’ season of The Bachelor, which premiered in January.
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“I am dedicated to getting educated on a more profound and productive level than ever before,” Harrison wrote earlier this month. “I want to ensure our cast and crew members, to my friends, colleagues and our fans: this is not just a moment, but a commitment to much greater understanding that I will actively make every day.”
In the wake of the controversy, several members of Bachelor Nation have spoken out against Harrison’s remarks and shared their hopes for the future of the franchise, which has long struggled to portray diverse love stories onscreen. The Perfect Letter author has hosted every season of the ABC reality series since its 2002 debut, but Lindsay thinks it’s time for the show to move in a new direction.
“Where do we go as a franchise? It’s kind of hard to say,” the attorney said on Extra amid the scandal. “To see the contestants come together and speak out and to say what they don’t stand for, I don’t know how we continue in this way. How do you when people of Bachelor Nation are upset, the contestants of this very show, the leads of the show? How does he go on to represent the franchise when people are so upset by what they saw in that interview that we had?”
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Kirkconnell, for her part, has addressed her past mistakes in two separate Instagram statements. On Thursday, she shared a vulnerable video speaking out against those who don’t think she deserved the amount of backlash she received.
“If you are in my comments or defending me anywhere, telling people that I did nothing wrong, that there’s nothing to be hurt about, there’s nothing to be angry about or offended about, please stop,” the Georgia native said. “That’s not our place to tell people what they can and can’t be offended about. That’s wrong, and that’s part of the problem.”
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