UPDATE 6/8/21 1:04 p.m. ET:
Warner Horizon and ABC Entertainment confirmed the news of Harrison’s exit in a statement to Us Weekly: “Chris Harrison is stepping aside as host of The Bachelor franchise. We are thankful for his many contributions over the past 20 years and wish him all the best on his new journey.”
Original story below:
Us can confirm the details of Deadline‘s story, which revealed the 49-year-old host reached an eight-figure settlement with ABC hours after Katie Thurston’s season 17 premiere of The Bachelorette on Monday, June 7. The news comes after Harrison came under fire in February for his apparent defense of controversial season 25 contestant (and eventual winner) Rachael Kirkconnell, who made headlines for her racially insensitive past.
“We all need to have a little grace, a little understanding, a little compassion,” Harrison told season 13 Bachelorette Rachel Lindsay on Extra at the time. “Who is Rachel Lindsay and who is Chris Harrison and who is whatever woke police person out there, who are you [to tell her to speak out]? I’ve heard this a lot of, ‘I think she should,’ ‘I think he should.’ Who the hell are you? Who are you that you demand that?”
The Perfect Letter author, who has hosted The Bachelor and its various spinoffs since its 2002 premiere, subsequently apologized twice via Instagram. After announcing plans to sit out Matt James’ After the Final Rose, he later appeared on Good Morning America and said he wanted to return to the show.
“I am an imperfect man, I made a mistake and I own that,” he said on March 4. “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. And this is a franchise that has been a part of my life for the better part of 20 years and I love it.”
Harrison added at the time, “I plan to be back and I want to be back. And I think this franchise can be an important beacon of change. 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. 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.”
Later that month, ABC announced former leads Kaitlyn Bristowe and Tayshia Adams would guide Thurston, 30, on her season 17 journey, which kicked off on Monday. After the news broke, Harrison hired Freedman & Taitelman’s Bryan J. Freedman, a high-profile lawyer who represented Gabrielle Union after she was let go from America’s Got Talent in 2019.
More recently, Us Weekly confirmed Harrison wasn’t going to be part of the upcoming season 7 of Bachelor in Paradise, with celebrities including David Spade rotating as hosts. Us exclusively revealed earlier this month that it was unlikely Harrison would return for Michelle Young’s season 18 of The Bachelorette.
James and Kirkconnell, meanwhile, got back together in May after breaking up amid the controversy.