“I disagree with him being fired,” the Bachelor in Paradise alum, 34, told Us Weekly exclusively after it was announced earlier this month that Harrison, 49, will not return to host the upcoming 17th season of The Bachelorette. “I think if you want to hold someone accountable, you don’t give them the easy way out by firing them. Chris is the face of the franchise.”
Bukowski argued that if the ABC dating series is really committed to making a change when it comes to diversity and representation, then Harrison “should be able to lead by example and show that he can change” after making his mistakes.
“The problem on that show is not Chris Harrison,” the Illinois native claimed. “It’s everyone. It’s production, it’s the cast, it’s the people that watch the show. So, if you’re going to put blame on one person and you’re going to point fingers at one person … I disagree with it completely.”
The longtime Bachelor host initially announced in February that he would be stepping away from the role he’s held for 20 years. At the time, Harrison came under fire for making insensitive remarks about season 25 Bachelor contestant Rachael Kirkconnell‘s resurfaced photos from an “Old South” party in 2018. During an interview with Rachel Lindsay — the franchise’s first Black Bachelorette — Harrison asked viewers to give the 24-year-old more “grace” and “compassion.”
Kirkconnell has since apologized for her social media history and shared an emotional moment with ex Matt James during the After the Final Rose special, which was hosted by Emmanuel Acho earlier this month. Harrison, for his part, previously admitted on Good Morning America that he’s an “imperfect man” in his first interview addressing the backlash.
Though the Texas native previously stated that he hoped to return to his hosting duties ahead of The Bachelorette, ABC confirmed on March 12 that Kaitlyn Bristowe and Tayshia Adams would be taking over next season. While Bukowski believes that both of the former Bachelorettes “know what they’re doing,” he admitted that he was confused by the replacement news.
“I think they’re both great and I’m pretty interested in seeing how it goes,” he told Us. “We’re so used to seeing Chris on the show [so] it’s going to be a completely different kind of element going into this season, but I’m excited for them.”
To the Bachelor Pad alum, swapping out Harrison for Bristowe, 35, and Adams, 30, is “putting a band-aid on the situation.” However, Bukowski might have a different perspective than others about what it looks like to hold the Perfect Letter author accountable.
“I don’t believe in cancel culture. … Should [Chris] return to that role? You have to decide what’s in the best interests of Chris Harrison?” Acho, 30, said on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert earlier this month. “What’s in the best interest of the show and the executive producers, but also, what’s in the best interest of the cast? They’re trying to commit to diversity. … What’s in the best interest of all three of those primary parties at play and make the decision that serves the most good.”
As the behind-the-scenes drama continues, Us confirmed that Harrison hired Bryan J. Freedman from Freedman & Taitelman to represent him amid the scandal. The lawyer represented Gabrielle Union after she was let go from America’s Got Talent after one season.
With reporting by Diana Cooper