Rachel Lindsay accepts The Bachelor’s Chris Harrison’s apology – after Michael Strahan dismissed it


Rachel Lindsay has said she accepts Chris Harrison’s apology and that it’s time to ‘move forward’ after The Bachelor host sparked a racism row when he defended a contestant who attended a plantation-themed ball.

Former Bachelorette star Lindsay, who was the first black lead on the show, told Extra co-host Billy Bush Thursday ‘I need to accept the apology, so we can all be better from this situation’ hours after Harrison issued a public apology to her on Good Morning America. 

Harrison admitted in the interview with GMA host Michael Strahan that aired Thursday morning he was ‘insensitive’ and ‘made a mistake’ as he vowed to return to the reality show and ‘be part of the change’.

But his apology was dismissed by Strahan who suggested his contrition was just ‘surface’ and a ploy by his fellow ABC colleague to get his $8 million a year job back. 

Strahan’s comments come just days after he was rumored to be ABC’s top choice to replace Harrison as the host for the live ‘After the Final Rose’ special – a role thought to be a possible trial run for a more permanent position on the show. 

But Strahan was passed over for the special with fellow former NFL star and New York Giants player Emmanuel Acho announcing Saturday he had accepted the job offer. It is unclear who will host the show when it returns for the next series.  

Harrison announced last month he was ‘stepping aside’ from the show in the wake of his controversial interview with Lindsay where he said people should show ‘compassion’ toward contestant Rachael Kirkconnell, after photos surfaced of her at a plantation-themed party and it emerged she had liked a photo on social media of the Confederate flag.  

He apologized for the remarks on social media last month before speaking out in person for the first time since the scandal broke on GMA where he said he ‘own[s]’ the mistake and is ‘an imperfect man’. 

Rachel Lindsay said on Extra Thursday (above) she accepts Chris Harrison’s apology and that it’s time to ‘move forward’ after The Bachelor host sparked a racism row when he defended a contestant who attended a plantation-themed ball

Lindsay, 35, who has received threats since the scandal erupted, said she accepted his apology Thursday. 

‘I do accept the apology, Billy, and I think it’s important for me to say that because I haven’t really talked about, you know, Chris and the statement because I’m not trying to make this a Chris-versus-Rachel, but the fact that, once again, you know – this isn’t the first time he’s apologized to me – he apologized again on GMA today and I do accept that and I think it’s important for me to say that because we need to move forward,’ she told Bush.

‘And for me, for us to move forward, I need to accept the apology, so we can all be better from this situation, which is what we want.’

When asked what ‘moving forward’ means, Lindsay said it is about having ‘tough, uncomfortable’ conversations about issues that are ‘bigger than just The Bachelor’.

‘I think that, listen, in 2020, it was all about people realizing things that they hadn’t before. It was a level of awareness that was created that people hadn’t necessarily recognized,’ she said.

‘And out of that also came conversations that we should be having whether they’re tough, uncomfortable, whatever it may be. Isn’t that what this should be as well? It’s bigger than just The Bachelor, it’s bigger than just a reality TV show. 

‘There are a lot of issues that have come up because of this interview, and I think it’s important that we continue the conversation, we continue to move forward. And I think that’s the best thing that we can hope for out of all of this.’ 

Harrison apologized to her in an interview with GMA host Michael Strahan that aired Thursday morning saying he was 'insensitive' and 'made a mistake' (above)

Harrison apologized to her in an interview with GMA host Michael Strahan that aired Thursday morning saying he was ‘insensitive’ and ‘made a mistake’ (above)

But his apology was dismissed by Strahan who suggested his contrition was just 'surface' and a ploy by his fellow ABC colleague to get his $8 million a year job back

But his apology was dismissed by Strahan who suggested his contrition was just ‘surface’ and a ploy by his fellow ABC colleague to get his $8 million a year job back

The Bachelorette star also said she appreciated Harrison addressing the online harassment she has faced amid the scandal after he urged people to stop ‘throwing hate’ at her. 

Lindsay was forced to deactivate her Instagram account last month after receiving ‘rude and hateful’ messages from fans of the show. 

‘I wasn’t expecting him, you know to address what’s been going on with me because this is the first time we’ve heard from Chris, but the fact that he did address the harassment and the hate that I’ve been receiving, I really appreciate that,’ she said.

Black author Michael Eric Dyson also praised Harrison’s apology telling TMZ the host was right to own up to his mistake and slam the people trolling Lindsay on social media. 

‘He also made it plain that he is not the victim here, a crucial point to emphasize as he rightfully refuses to revel in self-pity,’ said Dyson, who has has been meeting with Harrison to educate him on why his comments were offensive along with black leaders and educators.

‘At no point was he defensive, which is an important part of showing that he recognized his error.’   

During the interview, which was recorded Wednesday, Harrison said: ‘It was a mistake. I made a mistake. I am an imperfect man. 

Strahan's comments come just days after he was rumored to be ABC's top choice to replace Harrison as the host for the live 'After the Final Rose' special. But Strahan was passed over for the special with fellow former NFL star and New York Giants player Emmanuel Acho announcing Saturday he had accepted the job offer in a tweet (above)

Strahan’s comments come just days after he was rumored to be ABC’s top choice to replace Harrison as the host for the live ‘After the Final Rose’ special. But Strahan was passed over for the special with fellow former NFL star and New York Giants player Emmanuel Acho announcing Saturday he had accepted the job offer in a tweet (above)

‘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.

‘I plan to be back and I want to be back. This interview is not the finish line. There is much more work to be done. I am excited to be part of that change.’ 

He added: ‘To anyone who is throwing hate towards Rachael Lindsay, please stop. It is unacceptable.’ 

While Lindsay and Dyson welcomed his apology, Strahan was less convinced, telling his co-hosts after the interview aired: ‘His apology is his apology but it felt like I got nothing more than a surface response – obviously, he’s a man who clearly wants to stay on the show. 

‘Time will tell if there’s any meaning behind his words.’

Harrison earns $8million per year on the show while Strahan earns a reported $17million salary. 

Strahan’s criticism of the host came after OK magazine reported last week that he was being considered as Harrison’s possible replacement. 

A source told the magazine ABC was looking to the former NFL star and GMA host as the person for the job after Lindsay turned down the offer.   

Photos surfaced of contestant Rachael Kirkconnell at a plantation-themed party in 2018 as well as a history of liking photos with the Confederate flag

Photos surfaced of contestant Rachael Kirkconnell at a plantation-themed party in 2018 as well as a history of liking photos with the Confederate flag

Pictured: Contestant Rachael Kirkconnell on Matt James's season of The Bachelor

Pictured: Contestant Rachael Kirkconnell on Matt James’s season of The Bachelor

‘The After the Final Rose ceremony taping has been delayed until ABC can find the perfect host. Rachel Lindsay was their first choice, but she declined. Next they looked at several other former bachelors, bachelorettes or suitors from the show but in the end, they decided that this show was so important to the future of the franchise,’ they said. 

‘They needed someone who was not only popular and charming but also have a massive amount of live TV experience – which is why they want Michael Strahan.’

‘There is so much concern about the future of the show within ABC,’ the insider adds. ‘If they don’t get this episode right they could kill the cash cow. There is talk about taping the show rather than doing it live.’

The source added that a black host was important to ABC in the wake of the scandal.  

‘This way, producers will be able to have total control. Inside ABC, the thought of the show’s first black Bachelor, Matt James, having an honest conversation with Michael Strahan is very appealing,’ they said.

‘The last thing they need is Matt talking about racism and the Black experience with another dude who looks and thinks like Chris Harrison!’

During an interview, with former Bachelorette Rachel Lindsay (above), Harrison defended the actions of current Bachelor contestant Rachael Kirkconnell

During an interview, with former Bachelorette Rachel Lindsay (above), Harrison defended the actions of current Bachelor contestant Rachael Kirkconnell

Lindsay (during their interview) was the show's first black Bachelorette. She confronted Harrison when he defended the Old South themed party, saying: 'If I went to that party, what would I represent at that party?'

Lindsay (during their interview) was the show’s first black Bachelorette. She confronted Harrison when he defended the Old South themed party, saying: ‘If I went to that party, what would I represent at that party?’

The person picked to host the special could also be in the running to take the helm of the show full time, with the source saying it is unlikely Harrison will make a return and that the live show would be a good test for a potential successor.

Strahan did not comment on the rumors but any hopes of him standing in were quickly dashed when Acho announced Sunday – the day after the report surfaced – he had accepted the gig. 

‘IT’S OFFICIAL: I’ve accepted the Rose & am honored to be hosting the @bachelorABC After the Final Rose this year,’ he tweeted.

‘It’s been a pivotal season & this episode will be one of the most storied shows in its history. Empathy is needed and change is coming. See y’all then!’

ABC has not confirmed who will host the next series, with the show’s ratings plummeting amid the scandal.    

The race row erupted when photos surfaced of current contestant Kirkconnell at an ‘Old South’ plantation-themed frat formal in 2018.

The contestant is also said to have liked racially sensitive content on social media including a photo of two women posing in front a Confederate flag. 

Harrison appeared to defend Kirkconnell in a car-crash interview with James in which he urged for people to show the contestant ‘compassion’ and hit out at the ‘woke police’. 

‘The woke police is out there. And this poor girl Rachael, who has just been thrown to the lions, I don’t know how you are equipped when you have never done this before, to be woke enough, to be eloquent enough, to be ready to handle this.’ 

Lindsay told him: ‘Well, the picture was from 2018 at an Old South antebellum party – that’s not a good look.’

Harrison replied: ‘Well, Rachel, is it a good look in 2018 or is it not a good look in 2021? Because there’s a big difference.’

Harrison posted a statement apologizing for his comments in the interview

Harrison posted a statement apologizing for his comments in the interview

Lindsay replied: ‘It’s not a good look ever because she’s celebrating the Old South. If I went to that party, what would I represent at that party?’

The Bachelor host also called on people to ‘have a little grace, a little understanding, a little compassion’.

‘Because I’ve seen some stuff online… again, this ‘judge, jury, executioner’ thing where people are just tearing this girl’s life apart,’ he added. 

His comments sparked outrage from a group of 25 contestants in the current series who issued a joint statement saying they were ‘deeply disappointed’ by Harrison’s remarks.   

‘We are the women of Bachelor Season 25. Twenty-five women who identify as BIPOC were cast on this historic season that was meant to represent change.

‘We are deeply disappointed and want to make it clear that we denounce any defense of racism.

‘Any defense of racist behavior denies the lived and continued experiences of BIPOC individuals. These experiences are not to be exploited or tokenized,’ the group said.

Fans took to social media to call for Harrison’s firing while Lindsay said she would not renew her contract with Warner Bros. – the studio behind the franchise.   

Two days later Harrison issued an apology saying he was 'ashamed' of the 'pain' he caused to people of color and saying he was 'stepping aside' from the show

Two days later Harrison issued an apology saying he was ‘ashamed’ of the ‘pain’ he caused to people of color and saying he was ‘stepping aside’ from the show 

She later said in her podcast that he spoke over her throughout their interview and did not want to listen to her opinion. 

Current star Matt James, is the first black Bachelor in the show’s 25 seasons and nine-year run, said the controversy was ‘devastating and heartbreaking, to put it bluntly.’  

Harrison posted a statement on Instagram apologizing for his comments over the racial controversy saying ‘my intentions were simply to ask for grace in offering her an opportunity to speak on her own behalf.’

Two days later on February 23 he announced in another post he would no longer appear in the TV special and was ‘ashamed’ of the ‘pain’ he caused to people of color. 

Kirkconnell has also apologized over the scandal

Kirkconnell has also apologized over the scandal

‘I have spent the last few days listening to the pain my words have caused, and I am deeply remorseful,’ Harrison wrote in the long Instagram post.  

‘By excusing historical racism, I defended it. I invoked the term ‘woke police,’ which is unacceptable. I am ashamed over how uniformed I was. I was so wrong.’

Harrison apologized to the BIPOC community for his ‘harmful’ words and thanked people who had held ‘enlightening conversations’ with him on his ‘path to anti-racism.’  

Harrison, who has hosted the ABC reality television dating show since 2002, did not detail how long his break from the show would be only that it will be a ‘period of time’.  

Kirkconnell has also apologized and thanked fans for ‘holding her accountable’. She is one of three remaining contestants on the current series. 

In an Instagram video, she said: ‘The first big step in all of this is White people stepping up and taking accountability. Things will never change if we don’t all work together in working towards this racial progress and this unity that we want.’

Kirkconnell went on to emphasize the importance of having uncomfortable conversations and putting in the work to ‘unlearn’ racism. 

She also urged her followers not to defend or excuse her past behavior.

‘Please stop. That’s not our place to tell people what they can and can’t be offended about,’ she said.

‘That’s wrong and that’s part of the problem, so please stop saying that I did nothing wrong. That’s not true.

‘If you really want to support me, then encourage me to do better and encourage those around you to do better to accept change and allow others to learn and grow because we need to work together on this if anything is going to change.’ 

The show has been hit with record-low ratings since, which has long been accused or racism. The most recent episode drew an audience of 4million – down from 6million last season. 



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