Everything We Learned From Chris Harrison's GMA Interview

Chris Harrison spoke out on Good Morning America on March 4, 2021 regarding his controversial remarks while defending The Bachelor contestant Rachael Kirkconnell. Rachael — who is currently one of Matt James' final three on the ABC dating show — faced controversy after viewers discovered that she had liked photos on social media that featured the Confederate flag and had attended a plantation-themed party in 2018.

Harrison also found himself in hot water when he was asked by former The Bachelorette star Rachel Lindsay what he thought of the controversy during an interview for Extra in February 2021. In it, the longtime host seemed sympathetic to Rachael and said he believed fans should show her some "grace." Rachel pointed out the racist connotations associated with Rachael attending the Old South antebellum party, to which Harrison responded, "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 apologized for his comments and announced that he would be taking some time away from the franchise in the wake of the controversy, after which it was announced that he would be speaking out on GMA to co-host Michael Strahan. So, what did Harrison say and what has he learned? Read on to find out.

Will Chris Harrison return to The Bachelor?

Chris Harrison explained during his March, 4, 2021 Good Morning America interview that, while he does plan to return to The Bachelor franchise, he did not confirm when. In addition to hosting The Bachelor and The Bachelorette, Harrison fronts the spin-offs Bachelor in Paradise, The Bachelor Winter Games, and The Bachelor Presents: Listen to Your Heart. Harrison hosted the Women Tell All special for Season 29, which aired on March 1, 2021, but was recorded before the controversy. However, per Variety, he's been replaced by former NFL linebacker Emmanuel Acho for the After the Final Rose special, which will air in mid-March.

On GMA, Harrison said he wants to come back and said he believes the "franchise can be an important beacon of change." He continued, "I know that change is felt, not just by me, but by many others. And we are excited and willing to do the work to show that progress." Harrison also noted that his appearance on the ABC morning show "is not the finish line" and there's still a lot more work to be done, but he's also "excited to be a part of that change" going forward. 

"I believe that mistake doesn't reflect who I am or what I stand for. I am committed to progress, not just for myself, also for the franchise," he said. "And this is a franchise that has been a part of my life for the better part of 20 years and I love it."

How Chris Harrison is educating himself

As for how Chris Harrison plans to help bring about change to the nearly decades-old Bachelor franchise, he appears to be open to educating himself. Harrison told Michael Strahan on Good Morning America that he has "sought out leading scholars, teachers, faith leaders, people like Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, who I am so grateful for, and I've also been working closely with a race educator and strategist." He added that, "Dr. Dyson often talks to me about [counsel]. Not cancel, and that is full accountability, understanding what you didn't understand, owning that, learning from that, seeking counsel often in the community that you hurt, learning from them, listening, gaining experience, knowledge and moving forward."

Harrison also shared that he now understands his comments to former Bachelorette lead and Extra co-host Rachel Lindsay better, admitting that he is aware there is no difference between whether contestant Rachael Kirkconnell attended the controversial party in 2021 or in 2018. "Antebellum parties are not OK," he said. "Past, present, future, knowing what that represents is unacceptable."

Where Chris Harrison stands with Rachel Lindsay

Chris Harrison also opened up about where things stand between himself and Rachel Lindsay amid the controversy. He confirmed during the Good Morning America interview that he has personally apologized to her and also discussed his disappointment at her having to deactivate her Instagram account because of the hate she received following their interaction.

"I am saddened and shocked at how insensitive I was in that interview with Rachel Lindsay. I can't believe I didn't speak against antebellum parties, what they stand for," he said, claiming that he did not "speak from [his] heart" during their interview. Harrison added that he "stand[s] against all forms of racism, and [he is] deeply sorry to Rachel Lindsay and to the Black community."

The TV personality also had a message for all those who have sent horrific messages to Rachel, forcing her to step away from Instagram. "To anyone who is throwing hate towards Rachel Lindsay, please stop. It's unacceptable," he said. Rachel deactivated her Instagram account in February 2021, and explained on her Higher Learning podcast with Van Lathan that she needed to "detach from that negativity" after being threatened by fans of Harrison and the franchise, per Us Weekly. As of March 4, 2021 — the day of Harrison's interview — Rachel's Instagram remains offline.