'Bachelorette's' Chris Harrison: Bentley 'crossed the line,' 'almost shut down production'
On when Harrison first knew Bentley was bad news:
"I thought he was going to be trouble the moment Ashley told me he was going to be trouble. I'll go a little bit deeper. We talked that night ... I was pretty adamant about my feelings towards him. I usually try to walk that fine gray line of host/friend/confidant, but when you have information before the guy even gets out of the limo, that is beyond a red flag ... She was so anti everything she had done on Brad's season, the being closed off ... this season she kind of threw caution to the wind and did the opposite. We actually gave her the option before the limo pulled up - you don't have to meet this guy. She said, 'No, I want to meet him. if I don't like this guy, I'll kick him off.' She made the decision to go forward."
How hard was it to watch the drama unfold?
"Really hard. She's a friend of mine. But it gets to the point, and this is one of the things I find fascinating about this how, where I'm no longer a host, I'm a friend and I'm about to watch someone have their heart broken. ... Now all I can do is stand by and watch it and be there for her when it happens. This isn't just TV, this happens in life all the time. You just have to be there for them ... You'll see in the deliberation Monday night, it was very much not a deliberation. This was a friend walking in to pick up the pieces of another friend who had just had her heart ripped apart."
On why Ashley kept him around so long:
"I'd be interested to talk to her now and get her perspective now that she's had some time to heal and look into it more. Was it the bad boy? Was it, 'I wanna fix him?' The mother syndrome? Maybe it was a little bit of all of that. I couldn't put a finger on it, but I found it very perplexing myself. What do you see in this guy? He's bad news, he's going to hurt you. But he was so smooth, so caring around her, she never got to see his true colors and eventually he was able to use that and crush her."
On choosing to air the "tickle my [bleep]" comment, which Harrison confirms was "pickle":
"I think you've gotta see what the guy said. If it upsets someone's sensibilities or if it went too far, as far as any of our fans are concerned, I do apologize for that. But this is what this guy was saying. This was what he thought of Ashley. I think in true context you need to see what this guy was about and what his game was. Ashley didn't get to see or hear a lot of that ... you really had to show both sides to show exactly just how bad it was and how badly she's going to have the rug ripped out from under her on Monday night."
On whether they would have eventually shown Ashley some of this footage:
"Maybe if this had gone any further, you have to understand too, we're only two weeks in this, things had just started getting out of hand and him saying all these things. If it had gone on longer, I don't know the steps we would've taken, if we would've finally shown her these things. She was privy to a lot of information and lot of what we thought. Some of the producers had told her this guy's not good for you and I had told her some things. She had so much more information, more than Ali or Jillian ever had about Justin or Wes ... She had that information, she had everything she needed, but she always wanted to believe the good in the guy."
On how Bentley got cast in the first place:
"He obviously didn't say all those derogatory things in casting. He obviously didn't say, 'If it's Ashley, I'm going to use her and destroy her.' He wasn't that open and forthright in casting ... We are casting all the time, even whle we're shooting. I don't get involved in the casting for many reasons, but I never saw any of his stuff, I really didn't."
On the aftermath of when Ashley finds out:
"We didn't put this guy in there to draw up this drama. This really doesn't turn out to be a good thing for Ashley or us. It got to the point where we almost shut down production. We didn't know if she could continue on. This really makes her question everything - the rest of the guys, herself, if this is gonna work, if it's worth it."
On Bentley having a daughter and hoping he returns for the "Men Tell All" special:
"I have a son and I have a daughter and I can't fathom treating a woman, I couldn't fathom treating a woman like that anyway, but much less someone who has a daughter. I really hope he comes back to the 'Men Tell All,' not so I can rip him apart, but so I can hear his explanation. Can you imagine a man treating your daughter that way? I'd love to hear his response. I don't know what his end game was or what his motivations were. Things he said and things he did really crossed the line of decency, as far as I'm concerned."
"The Bachelorette" airs Monday nights at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.