Shortly after Chris Harrison announced that he is temporarily stepping down as host of The Bachelor, his girlfriend Lauren Zima broke her silence.
“What Chris said was wrong and disappointing. Defending racism can never happen,” the Entertainment Tonight host wrote in her Instagram Story.
She continued, “Accountability comes first, what’s next is learning and growth.”
This is the first time she has spoken out since his controversial Extra interview with Rachel Lindsay, calling for fans to give “grace” to Rachael Kirkconnell as she faces mounting accusations of racism. Zima has been dating Harrison for more than two years. They met through her role reporting on the dating franchise, hosting the popular Bachelor recap series, Roses and Rosé.
A Change.org Petition Called for Harrison’s Resignation
Harrison has faced backlash for a recent interview on Extra with Rachel Lindsay. During the interview, the former Bachelorette asked him about the recently surfaced photos of season frontrunner Rachael Kirkconnell attending an “Old South” antebellum-style party.
“First and foremost, I don’t know. I haven’t talked to Rachael about it, we all need to have a little grace, a little understanding, a little compassion,” he said. “I have seen some stuff online, again, this judge, jury, executioner thing where people are just tearing this girl’s life apart… Until I actually hear this woman have a chance to speak, who am I to say any of this… I saw a picture of her at a sorority party five years ago that’s it.”
Since the interview, a Change.org petition called for his resignation. It currently has more than 39,000 of the requested 50,000 signatures.
Harrison Has Temporarily Stepped Down as Host
Harrison announced Saturday that he will be temporarily stepping down as the franchise’s host, though it is currently unclear for how long or who his replacement will be.
“I have spent the last few days listening to the pain my words have caused, and I am deeply remorseful,” Harrison wrote in a statement he issued on Instagram. “My ignorance did damage to my friends, colleagues and strangers alike. I have no one to blame but myself for what I said the way I spoke. I set standards for myself, and have not met them. I feel that with every fiber of my being.”
“This historic season of The Bachelor should not be marred or overshadowed by my mistakes or diminished by my actions,” he said of this season, which sees Matt James’ as the franchise’s first Black Bachelor. “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.”
Harrison’s first apology was issued within 24 hours of the interview.
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