With the launch of Chris Harrison’s podcast, the once-beloved former The Bachelor host is breaking his silence.
Is it a good idea? Maybe. Probably not. But it was clearly inevitable.
He’s talking about how he felt “heartbroken” and “sick” in the wake of his racism scandal — the one that led to his departure from the franchise.
It sounds like he has learned a lot. But it also sounds like he feels like an apology would have fixed everything, were it not for factors beyond his control. Is that true?
This week, Chris Harrison launched his new podcast, The Most Dramatic Podcast Ever … with Chris Harrison.
He spoke about the sequence of events that began with a The Bachelor contestant’s not-unprecedented racism scandal.
Ultimately, Chris ended up making his exit from the franchise after nearly two decades playing host.
“I was sick to my stomach,” Chris recalled of his scandal and the aftermath.
“I lost 20 pounds, I didn’t sleep. I didn’t eat,” the fallen host described.
It has been nearly two years since all of that went down. But he says that he was following advice to avoid speaking (and potentially making things worse).
Across multiple years and seasons, sometimes people go on reality TV only to find that there are people who will expose them on social media.
A lot of what people had to say about Rachael Kirkconnell detailed past behavior — allegedly bullying high school classmates for “liking Black guys” — and concerns about family bigotry.
People don’t choose their families, but the racist bullying was different. People hoped that the woman who dated (and went on to “win”) the first-ever Black lead on The Bachelor had grown and changed since high school.
Rachael apologized, and also seemed to take her past behavior very seriously.
Between her own alleged behavior and actions that she had seemingly tolerated from those around her, she was right to apologize.
Additionally, the photo of her attending a “plantation party,” as people characterized it, featuring antebellum garb … did not go over well.
She and Matt ultimately got back together. They addressed the scandal.
Overall, most of the Bachelor Nation seems to agree that her sincere response and apology helped show how sorry she was.
While she could have used common sense a little earlier, she came out smelling like roses compared to Chris Harrison.
As many recall, Harrison made numerous dismissive comments while speaking to (or over) Rachel Lindsay, the franchise’s first Black lead on The Bachelorette.
“Well, Rachel, is it a good look in 2018, or is it not a good look in 2021? Because there’s a big difference,” Chris said at the time.
In response to his weird moral relativism excuse, Rachel replied: “It’s not a good look, ever.”
Harrison also chose, for some reason, to utter the words “woke mob” when describing Rachael’s critics.
To be woke is to be both aware of systemic inequality and to wish to resolve this. His characterization made that sound like a bad thing, and made many listeners wonder if the host was not a decent person. At least, that is what his language and priorities seemed to indicate.
Simply put, he took an existing scandal and turned it into a larger one — with him at the center. And that’s why Jesse Palmer is now the host.
In his podcast, Harrison recalled: “The toughest thing for me was where to turn, what to do.”
He characterized: “I was heartbroken. I was gutted. I was embarrassed. I was mad at myself.”
Harrison admitted: “I was disappointed in myself.”
“The last thing in the world I ever wanted to do was be an agent of anything negative,” Harrison stated on his podcast.
He added that this was true “whether it had to do with race or anything.”
“It was just one gut-punch after the other,” Harrison characterized. “And mentally and physically I deteriorated pretty bad.”
Harrison explained that he stepped back for so long “to think and learn and change and go through everything I went through personally before I had this talk.”
He also recalls how the timing of his dismissive statements did not do himself any favors.
“There was much more egregious things going in the world, and things that had happened,” he noted.
“And so,” Harrison continued, “people didn’t really think that it was going to amount to much.”
Some who had advised him thought that it would blow over “and that if I apologized, we would be able to move forward.”
But Harrison learned that, even after apologizing, he remained “still at ground zero.”
To his credit, he did acknowledge his “timing of being sloppy, inappropriate, wrong in that moment.”
Harrison stated: “That’s on me to have not seen that. I rolled a grenade under all that. And I made things worse.”
Of course, The Bachelor itself had been in the hotseat for years. The show had a serious racism problem, particularly among fans. Alarmingly, the show had catered to white fragility and worse. That was why the leads were disproportionately white.
“I shined a big bright light on more than what needed to be, that was on me,” Harrison acknowledged.
“And to have brought that on my house? It was shameful,” he admitted.
“And it just crushed me,” Harrison expressed. “To the bottom of my soul, I was just sick to my stomach.”
Even so, Chris Harrison described hearing the advice to stay out of the press for a while. He thought that the scandal would blow over.
His frustration mounted as he learned that members of the Bachelor Fam were having their agents call in — wanting his job while he still thought that he could save it.
Harrison felt that there was an “appetite to destroy and cancel” him. Perhaps … the question is whether it was unfounded.
However, he also notes that this was a “blessing,” as leaving the show gave him more family time (and one hell of a golden parachute).
In many ways, it sounds like Harrison has come to better understand where he went wrong. We suspect that, if he had things to do over, he would not have thrown himself onto his sword to defend Rachael’s troubling history.
At the same time, some came away from this podcast episode with the impression that he felt that apologizing should have fixed things automatically. And that it would have, had it not been for events beyond his control. Maybe. But … apologies are great, but they don’t always fix the harm that people do.