Chris Harrison, the long-time host of ABC’s “The Bachelor” who has been embroiled in controversy for statements he made during an interview last season, announced on Instagram Tuesday that he is leaving the reality show for good.
“I’ve had a truly incredible run as host of The Bachelor franchise and now I’m excited to start a new chapter,” Harrison posted. “I’m so grateful to Bachelor Nation for all of the memories we’ve made together. While my two-decade journey is wrapping up, the friendships I’ve made will last a lifetime.”
Harrison has hosted the “The Bachelor” for 19 years, since its launch back in 2002. He also helmed the franchise’s popular spinoffs, “The Bachelorette” and “Bachelor in Paradise.”
Harrison stepped away from the show in February, during the most recent “Bachelor” season, after he made explosive comments in a lengthy interview with the TV show “Extra.” The interview took place after disturbing social media posts by Rachael Kirkconnell, one of the contestants, had surfaced; in one photo, Kirkconnell posed with other women at an Antebellum-themed college party in 2018. While viewers were outraged by the racially insensitive photos, Harrison leapt to Kirkconnell’s defense, labeling those who who were upset by the posts the “woke police.”
Given that the shows have been roundly criticized for their lack of diversity over the years and that last season was the first to feature a Black man, Matt James, as the Bachelor, Harrison’s comments struck many observers as shockingly out of touch.
Within days, he’d issued an apology. “By excusing historical racism, I defended it,” he wrote as part of a Feb. 13 Instagram post. “I am ashamed over how uninformed I was. I was so wrong.”
On Monday night’s premiere of “The Bachelorette,” Harrison was nowhere to be found. The hosting duties were taken over by former Bachelorettes Tayshia Adams and Kaitlyn Bristowe.
News of Harrison’s exit seemed to unfold quickly on Tuesday. Deadline broke the story, and Harrison’s announcement on social media swiftly followed. But late Tuesday afternoon, ABC’s website was still identifying Harrison as the host of “The Bachelor.”
Hayley Kaufman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.