On the Feb. 15 episode of his Taking It Out podcast,Bryan Abasolo reacted to Chris Harrison’s interview with Rachel Lindsay. "Chris Harrison is someone that I respected highly and I’m not gonna lie, I definitely lost respect for him after watching that interview," Abasolo told his co-host and fellow Bachelorette contestant Mike Johnson. "I thought what he said was irresponsible, it was hurtful and it was just flat-out unacceptable."
Abasolo went on to highlight why he found the comments to be especially problematic coming from Harrison. "Now, we’re not talking about past contestants of the show, who pretty much come and go, right?" he explained. "We’re talking about the face of this franchise, 20 plus years of this man being on our television screens on a show that’s been needing a diversity makeover for years, I don’t think anybody’s going to deny that."
Though Abasolo believed Bachelor Nation "started turning a corner" back in 2017 when Lindsay was selected as the first black Bachelorette, he felt the last-minute selection of Tayshia Adams felt a little disingenuous. "And then 2020 happens, and there’s this mad scramble to finally get it right, which may have been a knee-jerk reaction to get it right," he said of their decision to replace Clare Crawley with Adams in the wake of George Floyd’s murder. Johnson agreed that "it was a very opportunistic reaction."
Abasolo added, "and then Chris comes out and says this, and to me it makes me wonder like, ‘Damn, is this how everyone on the top feels?’ I hope that isn’t the case, but this is the figurehead. Is this the sentiment that we are trying to overcome, still in 2021?"
ICYMI: Harrison made some controversial comments during a Feb. 9 interview with Lindsay on Extra during which they discussed Rachael Kirkconnell, a front-runner on Matt James’ season whose racially insensitive photographs have resurfaced across the internet. The photos had been swirling around the internet for weeks, but Kirkconnell had still not addressed them (she’s done so since). In the video, Harrison defended Kirkconnell’s silence and made some bold claims that made Lindsay visibly uncomfortable. Watch for yourself here:
Harrison has since apologized twice and announced he’s stepping down from his position as host, but Abasolo revealed he’s hesitant to accept his apology. "You tell me Chris, because you said it with your whole chest," he said, referring to Harrison’s Extra interview. "You were adamant about it. Quite frankly, the apology … I thought it was weak, not gonna lie. You said everything you’ve said in public, I believe that it should be standard that you should apologize by showing your face and speaking in public the same as your words were aired in public when you said them."
So, what does he want to see from Harrison moving forward? "We need to see the growth," Abasolo said. "You have too big of a platform and you’re too big of an influencer for you not to lead by example in this situation. I just pray that we see that evolution from him play out for everyone to see."
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