Chris Harrison temporarily replaced as “The Bachelor” host after defending racist behavior

Kelly Adkins, Contributing Writer

ABC’s The Bachelor franchise host of 19 years, Chris Harrison, has been replaced from the “After the Final Rose” special after downplaying the racist behavior of contestant Rachael Kirkconnell.

In early February, Kirkconnell’s social media posts from a 2018 Southern Antebellum-themed fraternity formal were discovered, along with proof of her liking Tiktok and Instagram posts that included the Confederate Flag and images of Kirkconnell dressed up as a Native American for a costume party.

Kirkconnell addressed her behavior on Feb. 11, owning up to her actions by saying “I was ignorant, but my ignorance was racist.,” Kirkconnell wrote.

In a recent interview with Rachel Lindsay on “Extra,” Harrison largely dismissed the accusations of racism against Kirkconnell.

When Lindsay spoke about how the Southern Antebellum-themed fraternity formal was “not a good look,” Harrison responded “Is it a good look in 2018? Or, is it not a good look in 2021? Because there’s a big difference.”

This season’s Bachelor, Matt James, this season’s Bachelor, addressed Harrison’s behavior as a failure to learn from Kirkconnell’s mistakes.

“As Black people and allies immediately knew and understood, it was a clear reflection of a much larger issue that The Bachelor franchise has fallen short on addressing adequately for years,” James said.

While Harrison continued to receive backlash for his comments, Lindsay was attacked for her side of the discussion. The franchise denounced the behavior of fans who were harassing Lindsay on their Instagram. Ultimately, it was announced that former NFL linebacker and current FOX Sports 1 analyst, Emmanuel Acho will replace Harrison as host for the upcoming special. Acho is also the New York Times-best-selling author of the book “Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man.”

In February, Kirkconnell had made a post to her Instagram story in which Acho’s book can be seen in the background. Fans are speculating that Kirkconnell posessing the book could point to the contestant following through on her plan to commit to an anti-racist journey.

Lindsay said that she believes Acho would be a “great fit” to host this special since he is unaffiliated with the franchise and is someone that people can trust to hold these discussions.

“He’s not biased in any way, he doesn’t watch the show, he doesn’t know the people involved. He should be there to be able to facilitate a conversation that we need to see happen,” said Lindsay.

Although Harrison has since apologized for his words, in a recent interview on “E!,” he said that he will not officially resign from his position as host. “I plan to be back and I want to be back,” said Harrison. “This interview is not the finish line. There is much more work to be done and I am excited to be part of that change.”

Kirkconnell remains one of the final contestants on James’ season. The Final Rose special will air on Mon. Mar. 15.