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'The Bachelor' host Chris Harrison 'stepping aside' temporarily after racial controversy

Harrison came under fire after an interview when he was asked about racially insensitive past behavior from “Bachelor” contestant Rachael Kirkconnell.

Chris Harrison, host of “The Bachelor,” says he is stepping down from his TV role and is “ashamed” for his handling of a swirling racial controversy at the ABC dating show.

In a new statement posted Saturday, Harrison apologized again for defending the actions by a contestant that are considered offensive. “By excusing historical racism, I defended it,” he wrote.

Harrison came under fire after an interview on “Extra” when he was asked about racially insensitive past behavior from current “Bachelor” contestant Rachael Kirkconnell.

Past photos of her resurfaced in which she is dressed in costume as a Native American and at an antebellum plantation themed ball. Kirkconnell later issued an apology for what she calls her past “racist and offensive” actions.

In the interview, Harrison defended Kirkconnell against what he called the “woke police” on social media. “We all need to have a little grace, a little understanding, a little compassion," he said in the interview.

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Harrison apologized on Saturday, saying “my ignorance did damage” and he was “ashamed over how uninformed I was.” He said he is stepping aside from his TV show “for a period of time” and will not be hosting the ”After the Final Rose" special that will follow the season finale of “The Bachelor.”

Credit: Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP
FILE - This Oct. 28, 2012 file photo shows Chris Harrison at the Hamilton "Behind the Camera" Awards at the House of Blues West Hollywood, Calif.