Chris Harrison will not return as host for the next season of The Bachelorette, Warner Horizon and ABC Entertainment said in a statement late Friday as the fallout continues over his comments about a current contestant's alleged racist past.
"In his absence, former Bachelorettes Tayshia Adams and Kaitlyn Bristowe will support the new Bachelorette through next season," the statement said. "As we continue the dialogue around achieving greater equity and inclusion with The Bachelor franchise, we are dedicated to improving BIPOC representation of our crew, including among the executive producer ranks."
The current season of The Bachelor, which stars Matt James, the first Black male lead in the nearly two decades since the show began, has been weighed down by controversy amid accusations of a frontrunner's racist past.
Soon after the season began airing, photos surfaced of contestant Rachael Kirkconnell attending an antebellum plantation–themed party. She also allegedly liked photos of people posing in front of a Confederate flag, among other accusations of racist behavior.
Harrison appeared to defend Kirkconnell in an interview on Extra with Rachel Lindsay, the first Black Bachelorette, and suggested that plantation-themed parties were acceptable in 2018.
His comments led to backlash among fans and some former contestants, and Harrison announced in mid-February that he was temporarily stepping away from his hosting duties. On Good Morning America in early March, he issued another apology for his comments and said, "I plan to be back and I want to be back [as host]."
The franchise has long faced criticism for the overwhelming whiteness of its contestants and leads. That Lindsay and James were picked as leads in recent years gave hope to fans that the franchise was changing for the better, but both of their seasons were weighed down by contestants whose past racist behavior emerged as the show aired.