Chris Harrison Defends Himself, And Courtney

The typical Thursday interview with castoffs from The Bachelor had a novel twist this week, as show host/confidant Chris Harrison stepped into the arena in the wake of Monday’s episode, which was highlighted by Harrison confronting Casey Shteamer with the suspicion that she was still in love with someone back home. After she more or less admitted this was the case, Bachelor Ben Flajnik chose to send her home on the spot, without benefit of a Rose Ceremony.

Many observers found the treatment of Casey to be demeaning, given that she seemed to be genuinely troubled by the state of her prior relationship, and given that she probably wasn’t long for the show anyway. There is also the undeniable fact that neither Harrison nor anyone else with the franchise intervened during last summer’s season of The Bachelorette, when Bentley Williams seemed ticketed for a possible win even though he was admitting to the cameras that he had no interest in Ashley Hebert (he later left the show on his own volition).

During the conference call, Harrison said that regret over the Bentley incident was what prompted him to act this time. “I think I probably could have gone a little bit further in protecting [Ashley],” Harrison said, but he also acknowledged that unlike Bentley, who was up front about the fact that he was deceiving his Bachelorette, Casey had gone on the show in a sincere attempt to find love.  “The Casey situation was completely different; she had no ulterior motives,” Harrison said.

The problem, as The Bachelor saw it, was that Casey couldn’t say for certain that she was open to finding love with Ben, given her lingering feelings for her ex Michael. Had she done that, Harrison claimed, he would have dropped the matter right there without even going to see Ben. “She absolutely had her half of this conversation, and that half led us to realize she is not over this guy Michael,” Harrison said. “As benign as it was with Casey, I made it very clear what the situation was. I wasn’t going to leave that conversation with any sort of gray area: you’re either here to fall in love with Ben, or you’re not … as much as I would love to use this show as emotional rehab for people to move on, this wasn’t going to work.”

Harrison also faced questions about whether the behavior of Courtney Robertson might fall under the heading of the kind of manipulation Ben needs to be warned about, but he defended Courtney’s strategy as an “all’s fair in love and war” kind of thing. “That’s Ben making his own decisions,” Harrison said. “That’s kind of in the eye of the beholder, if she’s playing him or not … there’s a certain game element to [courtship], and if you don’t think so, you’re probably not in the right game.” He did express the opinion that Courtney does have genuine feelings for Ben aside from simply seeing him as a prize to win, something not really in evidence on the show thus far.

The host is a pro at this by now, and was careful not to say anything that might suggest Courtney is on her way to winning this season, something that as of now certainly seems likely. He did, however, say that some of Courtney’s more caustic comments could be embarrassing for herself and for Ben, and that an apology might be called for. “I think she gets caught up in the moment sometimes,” he said. “The show does strange things; it puts you in a very strange atmosphere and environment.” He also predicted that Ben would feel regret over his abrupt dismissal of Casey.

VIP cocktail waitress Blakeley Shea was the ousted woman in this week’s conference call. Blakeley, who was sent packing in tears following a two-on-one date, attracted attention for outfits that showed off her ample physical attributes, and for constantly wondering why she couldn’t get a solo date. “It hurt a little bit [to be sent home], but if he wasn’t feeling it, it was obviously the best for both of us,” she said.

Most of the evicted women thus far have had harsh remarks for Courtney, but Blakeley said she had little opinion about her since the two never spent much time around each other. She did add that she was upset about some of Courtney’s personal comments, however. When asked about who among the six left would be a good fit for Ben, she mentioned Nicki: “She’s very down to earth, very real, she knows what it’s like to be married, she wants the same things Ben wants.” (Nicki wants to skinny dip with a naked model? Really?)

Blakeley, who said she is not dating at the present time, sounded as if she had gotten over any bad experiences with the show, only expressing emotion when asked about the snide remarks of the other women: “Seeing some of the girls say some of the most hateful and hurtful things behind my back – I know there was tension and people tried to ostracize me, but these were very hurtful words.” She said that after some early drama, she made a point of trying to lower the temperature. “I got into a place where I felt, if I keep letting these girls get to me, it’s just going to bring me down and that’s not going to be attractive to Ben,” she said. Well, it worked for a couple of weeks, anyway.