Every season of The Bachelor gets hit with a certain amount of controversy and Matt James's season is no different. This time, though, it involves not only current contestants but the long-standing host, Chris Harrison, and a former Bachelorette lead, Rachel Lindsay.
After Season 25 contestant Rachael Kirkconnell was called out by fans for alleged behavior in high school and college that was deemed problematic and racist, Chris spoke to Lindsay.
Their recent discussion on Extra went from bad to worse when Chris seemed to almost make excuses for Kirkconnell and Lindsay called him out on it. Afterward, he issued an apology for what was said, but the damage had already been done. The behind-the-scenes drama keeps coming for Matt's Bachelor season.
What did Chris Harrison say to Rachel Lindsay?
On Feb. 9, 2021, Lindsay interviewed Chris on Extra about Kirkconnell's past behavior that came to light when someone shared a photo on Reddit of her at a Georgia antebellum-plantation-themed ball from when she was in college. Someone else also accused Kirkconnell of bullying a high school classmate for dating Black guys.
When Chris spoke to Lindsay about the new photo that surfaced, he urged Lindsay and everyone else to give Kickconnell "a little grace, a little understanding, a little compassion" in regards to the public opinion of The Bachelor contestant. He said the photo was from college as a way to explain that it was in the past.
To this, Lindsay responded, "The picture was from 2018 at an Old South antebellum party." She added that the idea of the party, which would place a Black woman like her in a position of a slave rather than a party-goer, was "not a good look." Still, Chris continued to try and play an angle in defense of Kirkconnell.
"I'm not defending Rachael. I just know that, I don't know, 50 million people did that in 2018," Chris said, in reference to the "Old South" type of sorority party that Kirkconnell attended. "That was a type of party that a lot of people went to. And again, I'm not defending it. I didn't go to it."
He questioned whether or not it was OK to do then but not in 2021.
To that, Lindsay pointed out that it has never been OK to celebrate a period of time in the south when a Black person would represent something else entirely than what Kirkconnell and her friends represented as party guests.
Chris expressed concern that Kirkconnell isn't equipped to deal with the backlash she has faced from the general public over her actions from years before The Bachelor, even though Lindsay pointed out that she has had plenty of time to do so.
Chris Harrison released an apology to Rachel Lindsay.
After the interview went viral and people called out Chris for his choice of words that seemed to defend Kirkconnell instead of addressing the issue of race at hand, he released a statement on Instagram, apologizing to Lindsay.
"While I do not speak for Rachael Kirkconnell, my intentions were simply to ask for grace in offering her an opportunity to speak on her own behalf," he wrote as part of his statement.
He admitted that he should have been more informed on the topic before speaking about it on Kirkconnell's behalf. "What I now realize I have done is cause harm by wrongly speaking in a manner that perpetuates racism, and for that I am so deeply sorry," Chris added.
So Far, Lindsay hasn't released a response of her own and Kirkconnell remains silent on all topics relating to her ongoing controversies outside of The Bachelor.