Chris Harrison speaks out in 1st interview since stepping away from ‘The Bachelor’

The reality franchise host said he is an “imperfect man” who “made a mistake” and is “committed to progress” after defending frontrunner Rachael Kirkconnell’s past racist social media posts.
5:35 | 03/04/21

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Transcript for Chris Harrison speaks out in 1st interview since stepping away from ‘The Bachelor’
We are back with Michael's exclusive interview with "The bachelor" host Chris Harrison. That's Harrison's first interview since stepping away from his signature franchise, Michael. Yes, in the wake of the racism controversy that plagued the first season of the show featuring a black bachelor I sat down with the longtime host to find out what was behind his contentious remarks. It was a mistake. I made a mistake. This morning, embattled bachelor host Chris Harrison sitting down with "Gma" exclusively in his first interview since stepping away from the franchise. After facing backlash for defending Rachael Kirkconnell whose past posts show her liking a photo with a confederate flag and attending a plantation-themed party in 2018, she since apologized for those actions. Thank you for holding me accountable. I'm so sorry. It's not a good look. No, it's not -- well, Rachel, is it a good look in 2018 or not a good look in 2021. It's not a good look ever because she's celebrating the old south. If I went to that party, what would I represent? At that party? I think the biggest surprise for a lot of people that this season was supposed to be a turning point for the show. We had the first black bachelor in the franchise's history after being on the air for two decades, too little too late by quite a few people but now overshadowed by this controversy over racism but not just by a contestant on the show but also by its own host and you are the face of the show. So a lot of people and I'm wondering why would you defend Rachael Kirkconnell? I'm an imperfect man, I made a mistake and I own that. I believe that mistake doesn't reflect who I am or what I stand for. I am committed to the progress, not just for myself, also for the franchise. My guess, these girls got dressed up and went to a party and had a great time, they were 18 years old. Now, does that make it okay, I don't know, Rachel, you tell me. You said quote is it not a good look in 2018 or not a good look in 2021 because there's a big difference so what is the -- to you what is the difference or is there one? There is not. Antebellum parties are not okay. Past, present, future, knowing what that represents is unacceptable. Reporter: In that interview Harrison also used a term he now says is unacceptable. I am not the woke police. There's plenty of people. Plenty of people who will do that for us. Lindsay later discussing that on her podcast. During that conversation he talked over me and at me. During that conversation, his privilege was on display. He never gave me room to talk and he never gave me room to share my perspective. He wasn't trying to hear it. He was just trying to be heard. I am saddened and shocked at how insensitive I was in that interview with Rachel Lindsay and I didn't speak from my heart and that is to say I stand against all forms of racism and I am deeply sorry. I'm sorry to Rachel Lindsay and I'm sorry to the black community. Since your conversation with Rachel Lindsay she's been a target online of intense harassment and bullying, so much so she's had to deactivate her Instagram account. Have you had a chance to talk to her and if so what was that conversation. I talked to Rachel, not since she deactivated it but talked to her initially and apologized and I want to do so again. I am incredibly sorry. To anyone who is throwing hate towards Rachel Lindsay, please stop. It is unacceptable. Do you think the reaction that you received has been fair? I am not a victim here. I made a mistake and I own that. Racism, oppression, these are big dynamic problems and they take serious work and I am committed to that work. Harrison says he's been working closely with a, quote, race educator and strategist along with faith leaders and scholars like Dr. Michael Eric Dyson. Dr. Dyson often talks to me about counsel, not cancel. And that is full accountability, understanding what you didn't understand. Owning that, learning from that, seeking counsel often in the community that you hurt, learning from them, listening, gaining experience, knowledge, and moving forward. So you are the right person to lead this franchise into the future, you feel. I plan to be back and I want to be back. This interview is not the finish there is much more work to be done and I'm excited to be a part of that change? A lot more work to be done. I cannot agree with you more on that. His apology is his apology but felt like it got nothing more than a surface response on any of this and obviously he a man who wants to clearly stay on the show. But only time will tell if there is any meaning behind his words.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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