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Chris Harrison Is Stepping Aside From ‘The Bachelor’

- The Bachelor -
Chris Harrison Is Stepping Aside From ‘The Bachelor’

This season of The Bachelor is even more historic than we expected. In an Instagram post on Saturday, host Chris Harrison announced he is "stepping aside" from the season, following a much-criticized interview with previous Bachelorette Rachel Lindsay.

Said the host in his post:

"This historic season of The Bachelor should not be marred or overshadowed by my mistakes or diminished by my actions. To that end, I have consulted with Warner Bros. and ABC and will be stepping aside for a period of time and will not join for the After the Final Rose special. I am dedicated to getting educated on a more profound and productive level than ever before. 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."

The announcement comes after a week of criticism from Bachelor Nation and its fans, who were offended by Harrison's interview, during which he rationalized racist behavior from a finalist on Matt James' season, Rachael Kirkconnell. (Kirkconnell had participated in an antebellum-themed event in 2018, and had been accused of racially motivated bullying; Harrison tried to justify her actions by claiming 2018 was a different time.) Both Harrison and Kirkconnell issued apology statements following the revelations and interview (Harrison admitted he caused harm "by wrongly speaking in a manner that perpetuates racism," and that he promised to "do better"), but that didn't keep fans and former contestants from starting a Change.org petition demanding a new host for the franchise.

While Harrison's decision (if it was his decision) to step away seems fit, it's no less surprising – the host has been the de facto star of the franchise since its premiere in 2002. What remains to be seen is who will replace him for the "After The Final Rose," and whether he will return to the series at all. Earlier in this season, fans speculated the series was grooming former Bachelorette JoJo Fletcher for a future hosting gig, and, earlier this week, fans were rallying for Lindsay herself to replace Harrison.

A permanent removal would continue a sea change for early 2000s reality – ABC replaced longtime Dancing With The Stars host Tom Bergeron with Tyra Banks last year. Will fans accept The Bachelor without Chris Harrison? After this week, seems that they will.

Images: Craig Sjodin/ABC

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