"The Bachelor" host Chris Harrison, who has apologized for an interview in which he excused season front-runner Rachael Kirkconnell for past racist actions, expressed further contrition on "Good Morning America" Thursday, though "GMA" co-host Michael Strahan remained dubious.
"I am an imperfect man, I made a mistake and I own that," said Harrison, 49, who has stepped down indefinitely as host of the ABC dating competition and its spinoffs. "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."
In a Feb. 9 "Extra" interview with correspondent Rachel Lindsay, who in 2017 became the first African-American star of "The Bachelorette," Harrison had assailed "the woke police" for criticizing Kirkconnell, who had been accused of "liking" racist social-media posts and who attended an Old South-themed party in 2018.
He has learned, Harrison told Strahan, that, "Antebellum parties are not OK." In a portion not broadcast but transcribed on the "GMA" website, Harrison went on to say, "I can't believe I didn't speak against Antebellum parties, what they stand for." Saying on air that he was "saddened and shocked at how insensitive I was in that interview with Rachel Lindsay," he apologized again to her and "to the Black community."
He had apologized to Lindsay directly, Harrison said, but had not spoken to her since "she deactivated her Instagram account" last week after internet trolls bombarded her social media with hate messages. "To anyone who is throwing hate towards Rachel Lindsay, please stop," he implored. "It's unacceptable."
Harrison acknowledged, "I am not a victim here. I made a mistake and I own that. Racism, oppression, these are big, dynamic problems and they take serious work. And I am committed to that work." He said he is consulting with "a race educator and strategist" as well as with faith leaders and scholars such as author, media commentator and Vanderbilt University professor Dr. Michael Eric Dyson.
"I plan to be back and I want to be back" as host of the "Bachelor" franchise, Harrison said. "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."
Following the interview, Strahan, 49, told his co-hosts that Harrison's "apology is his apology, but it felt like … 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."