The longtime host of The Bachelor, Chris Harrison, says he is taking a break from his role on the show after seemingly defending contestant Rachael Kirkconnell, who has been accused of publishing racist posts on social media. Harrison says he doesn't want his actions to overshadow an otherwise historic season of the program.

The Bachelor, Chris Harrison
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“This historic season of The Bachelor should not be marred or overshadowed by my mistakes or diminished by my actions,” Harrison wrote in a statement on Instagram. “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.”

Kirkconnell has been accused of wearing an offensive Native American costume, posting pictures of Confederate flags on social media, and attending an antebellum plantation-themed party in 2018. She apologized for her behavior earlier this week:

I was ignorant, but my ignorance was racist. I am sorry to the communities and individuals that my actions harmed and offended. I am ashamed about my lack of education, but it is no one’s responsibility to educate me. 

Harrison defended Kirkconnell, saying that she deserved to be shown "a little grace, a little understanding, a little compassion."

He explained: “Because I have seen some stuff online — this judge, jury, executioner thing — where people are just tearing this girl’s life apart and diving into, like, her parents, her parents’ voting record. It’s unbelievably alarming to watch this. I haven’t heard Rachael speak on this yet. And until I actually hear this woman have a chance to speak, who am I to say any of this?”

[Via]