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Chris Harrison Finally Tells All About His “Confusing, Scary” 'The ...

Chris Harrison Finally Tells All About His Confusing Scary The
On the premiere episode of his new podcast, the ousted host talks about his stress-induced 20-pound weight loss, the show’s declining ratings, and whom he picked to be his replacement.

Chris Harrison is finally telling all. More than a year since he stepped down as host of The Bachelor following a controversial Extra interview in which he excused racist behavior from one of the show’s contestants, Harrison spoke publicly for the first time on Monday via his new podcast, The Most Dramatic Podcast Ever. 

“I was heartbroken. I was gutted. I was embarrassed. I was mad at myself. I was disappointed in myself. The last thing in the world I ever wanted to do was be an agent of anything negative, whether it had to do with race or anything,” Harrison said of his “infamous interview” with Rachel Lindsay, the franchise’s first Black lead, that led to his eventual ouster. “The fact that I was involved in this and that I had a big part in this—and I do own that—there were many things out of my control and things definitely spun out of control for a number of reasons. But for my part in this, I was sick, sick to my stomach. I lost 20 pounds. I didn’t sleep. I didn’t eat. I was scared to death.”

The former emcee, who hosted The Bachelor, The Bachelorette, and Bachelor in Paradise for 19 years, urged “a little compassion” for contestant Rachael Kirkconnell after photos of her attending an antebellum-themed party resurfaced during first Black bachelor Matt James’s season. After the interview aired, Kirkconnell issued an apology on Instagram, saying she “didn’t recognize how offensive and racist my actions were, but that doesn’t excuse them.” 

Harrison said that while “everybody did agree…it was a messy, really bad conversation and I wasn’t my normal eloquent self” that he “wasn’t really too worried about my job or the show.” The host said he understood that “if I apologized, we would be able to move forward.” Harrison did just that, offering his mea culpa in a Good Morning America interview with Michael Strahan that the anchor called “a surface response.” The Bachelor host promptly announced that he would be “stepping aside for a period of time” from the series. 

“Apologies didn’t matter. And I’ve never seen a time like that in my life, I’ve never known that not to work. If you sincerely apologize and open your heart and it was just like yelling in a cave,” Harrison recalled. “It just didn’t matter. It didn’t move anything and it didn’t move us away from what had just happened. So even after that apology, we were still at ground zero. And it was confusing and it was scary.”

He was “counseled” not to talk further about the scandal in which “my name became synonymous with this political lightning in a bottle moment,” Harrison said, later adding, “Don’t use a crisis manager. I’m not saying they’re full of shit, but they’re not great.” He permanently departed the show in June 2021 and reportedly received a “mid-range eight-figure settlement” from ABC, according to Deadline. 

Harrison, who says he no longer watches the series, did admit to keeping an eye on its declining viewership. “I realize the ratings are down 50 to 60 percent and the show has changed dramatically,” he said. “But also that hurts me a little bit because it’s something I took pride in building.” He also called out contestants such as former Bachelor Nick Viall who he said, after smelling “blood in the water,” lobbied for his role. “I know people wanted my job—they’d be crazy not to, it was a great gig, or so it appeared from the outside looking in,” Harrison explained.

ABC enlisted former Bachelor, NFL quarterback, and sports commentator Jesse Palmer to replace Harrison—a move that surprised him. “I thought, to be completely candid, that Wells," he said, referring to Wells Adams, a past contestant who has a host-like presence as the bartender on Bachelor in Paradise, “was going to get the job,” he said. “I thought that was kind of the easiest call since Ken Jennings got the Jeopardy job. He’s in the family, everybody loves him. It just seemed like a layup. But that’s not how it went down.” Harrison said he even went so far as to privately tell Adams: “I hope you get the job.”

While Harrison insisted that he has “no animosity” toward the franchise he was once the face of, he did note at the top of his first podcast episode: “I’m sure there are a lot of people–well, a few people—that are sitting in Hollywood right now nervous as hell that I am doing a podcast. And I  guess I would say to those people: ‘If you’re nervous, maybe you should be, because you probably know that I know.’”

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