Ben Higgins Says The Bachelor Is 'Going to Have to Confront' Chris Harrison Stepping Aside amid Scandal
Former Bachelor Ben Higgins is speaking out after Chris Harrison stepped aside from the franchise in the wake of his comments supporting contestant Rachael Kirkconnell.
Speaking in a PEOPLE exclusive clip of the Fubo Sports Network's Drinks with Binks, Higgins, 31, says that he believes The Bachelor should address the ongoing racism controversy head-on, given that Harrison is still appearing on the current season featuring Matt James.
Higgins says he thinks it will be "confusing" for fans to see Harrison, 49, on the show after his announcement that he will be taking time away from the franchise. Like most reality shows, the dating series is pre-taped, so the remaining episodes took place before Harrison's comments.
"I think it's going to be weird for the show," Higgins says. "I think — you know, I don't know how much the fan of The Bachelor pays attention to what's going on in the news. I don't know that, I don't know how to decide that. So I'm sure some people have no clue that this is happening right now. … I think it's going to be weird for the fan. I think it's going to be confusing."
Because of that, Higgins says the show should "confront" what's been going on off-air so that the fan base is aware.
"I think that the show is going to have to confront it," Higgins says. "I don't know if they will, though."
"I have a feeling the show needs to address it now and say — I don't know if it sort of ruins the essence of the show to say, 'Hey, this was pre-taped, and this show's already done. This isn't happening in real time.' I don't know if people understand that or not. But it's going to have to be talked about and I think it's going to be — it's going to get sparked back again every week when he's still the host. That conversation of, what's gonna happen now?" Higgins explains.
The controversy began last week, when former Bachelorette Rachel Lindsay interviewed Harrison on Extra about current contestant Kirkconnell's past racist actions that resurfaced during the season. She apologized last week.
Harrison said that Kirkconnell deserved "compassion" after social media posts of hers surfaced — including Kirkconnell dressed up as a Native American person and attending an antebellum plantation-themed ball.
Backlash quickly followed Harrison's comments to Lindsay, 35, and the longtime Bachelor host issued two apologies, announcing in the second that he would be stepping away "try to evolve and be a better man."
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Higgins says his "biggest takeaway" from the controversy is that Harrison's words "were problematic."
"They hurt a bunch of people," he says in the Fubo Sports clip. "They definitely didn't help us on the pursuit of becoming more educated, of learning more, of fighting for racial reconciliation and racial justice. And I think we're seeing that."
Higgins adds that now that the "storm of it all" has somewhat passed, he's been asking himself, "what can we do with this?"
"And I think that's the big place I sit today is, asking myself the question: in my own network, my own people, my own friend group and with my platform, is what can we now do with the things that we've seen and learn how do we get better? And I hope that Chris is asking those questions," he says. "I hope that everybody is asking those questions."
"That's kind of where I sit today, is what do we do with this and how do we work to not forget about it and move on," says Higgins. "But to get better from it."
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