Besmirched The Bachelor host Chris Harrison joined Good Morning America's Michael Strahan on Thursday for his first interview since stepping away from his 19-year role with the franchise, a move made in the face of backlash for controversial comments about past racist behavior by contestant Rachael Kirkconnell.
After the five-minute, 35-second segment aired, Strahan questioned Harrison's sincerity with his fellow GMA co-hosts: "His apology is his apology, but it felt I got nothing more than a surface response on any of this. And, obviously, he is a man who wants to clearly stay on the show, but only time will tell if there is any meaning behind his words."
"I am an imperfect man," Harrison told Strahan during the interview. "I made a mistake, and I own that. I believe that mistake doesn't reflect who I am or what I stand for. I am committed to the progress—not just for myself, also for the franchise."
The downfall began during an early February interview with Rachel Lindsay, the first Black Bachelorette, in which Harrison refused to condemn Kirkconnell's involvement in a 2018 Old South-themed fraternity formal as well as liking racist social media posts. "Well, Rachel, is it a good look in 2018 or is it not a good look in 2021?" Harrison had said.
Strahan, in the NFL Hall of Fame for tackling, didn't pull any punches and asked Harrison the difference between 2018 and '21 when it comes to racism. "There is not [a difference]," Harrison responded. "Antebellum parties are not OK. Past, present, future. Knowing what that represents is unacceptable."
EXCLUSIVE: “It was a mistake.” #TheBachelor host Chris Harrison apologizes for defending frontrunner Rachael Kirkconnell’s past racist social media posts, telling @michaelstrahan he is an “imperfect man” who is “committed to progress.” https://t.co/OfPBBzGd9s pic.twitter.com/0EgbKV99DV— Good Morning America (@GMA) March 4, 2021
Harrison, who emphasized he "is not a victim here," also revealed he has been consulting with a "race educator and strategist" and Dr. Michael Eric Dyson. The 49-year-old does not intend to permanently resign from The Bachelor. "I plan to be back," he said, "and I want to be back. This interview is not the finish line. There is much more work to be done, and I am excited to be a part of that change."
Harrison previously released an apologetic statement followed by the announcement of his temporary hiatus immediately after his contentious conversation with Lindsay:
Matt James, the first Black lead of the Bachelor since its inception in 2002, also spoke out:
James' season, the franchise's 25th, will air its finale over the next two Mondays conclude with "After the Final Rose" on March 15. Former NFLer and Fox Sports 1 analyst Emmanuel Acho will host "After the Final Rose" in Harrison's place. Kirkconnell is considered the front-runner, and she broke her silence last week: