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Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times
Greg Braxton

'Bachelor' creator responds to report of racism investigation: 'I had more good days than bad'

LOS ANGELES — "The Bachelor" creator Mike Fleiss, who announced earlier this week that he was leaving the hit ABC reality franchise, is pushing back against a report that he was being investigated for racial discrimination on the dating show at the time he stepped down.

"Since its premiere 21 years ago, times have certainly changed and I'd have to say we didn't keep up with the pace of those changes," Fleiss said in a statement. "I am proud of the work we've done over the past five years to make the show substantially more diverse, but I do believe I could have done more. Hopefully, the franchise will continue to move in the right direction."

ABC and Warner Bros. Television declined to comment.

The statement came in response to a report in Variety that Fleiss' exit from "The Bachelor" and "The Bachelorette" was prompted by an investigation by Warner Bros. Television, which produces the show, into allegations of racial discrimination by Fleiss. The report said that a number of employees had complained to human resources, which had led to the investigation.

Fleiss, who did not give a specific reason when he announced his exit on Tuesday, did not directly deny the allegations or mention the report in the statement. But he touted the success of the franchise.

"Judging by the number of staff weddings we've hosted at our home and the number of teary messages that blew up my phone when I announced I had turned in my final rose, I'm pretty sure I had more good days than bad, lifted more spirits than hurt feelings and leave the franchise in good hands, with more friends than foe," he said.

"The Bachelor" franchise has been in crisis mode in recent years, rocked by charges of racism and bullying of contestants of color; the just-completed season of "The Bachelor" included a contestant who had posted since-deleted tweets defending a former classmate who posed in blackface. Though it has been one of ABC's most valuable properties, it has been regularly criticized over its two-decade-plus tenure on air for cultural insensitivity and a lack of diversity.

The first Black "Bachelorette," Rachel Lindsay, cut ties with the franchise in 2021 following the season of "The Bachelor" that featured its first Black lead, Matt James. The season was embroiled in controversy when photographs surfaced of eventual winner Rachael Kirkconnell at an antebellum South-themed party. Then-host Chris Harrison defended Kirkconnell in a fiery interview with Lindsay, stoking the firestorm that eventually prompted his exit from the franchise.


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