Associated Press—PBS has postponed its series “Finding Your Roots” until further notice after determining that an episode omitted information regarding Ben Affleck’s ancestor being a slave owner.
The public television service station launched an investigation after it was reported that Affleck requested that the program not reveal his ancestor’s slave-holding history in the 2014 episode. According the the Associated Press, historical documents indicate that Afflec’s great-great-great-grandfather owned 24 slaves.
The investigation found that co-producers violated PBS standards by allowing improper influence on the show’s editorial process and failed to inform PBS or the producing station WNET of Affleck’s efforts to affect the program’s content.
Affleck’s request came to light last spring in hacked Sony emails published online.
In a statement, series host and executive producer Henry Louis Gates Jr. apologized for forcing PBS to defend the integrity of its programming. he said he is working to ensure transparency. Gates stated that they didn’t intend to censor the slave-owner details. Instead, more interesting ancestors of Affleck emerged and Gates chose to highlight them instead.
Affleck took to his Facebook page to address the issue:
“We deserve neither to credit nor blame for our ancestors and the degree of interest in this story suggests that we are, as a nation, still grappling with the terrible legacy of slavery.” He went on to say that he was “embarrassed” for the show about his family to include a slave owner, then added, “Finding Your Roots” isn’t a news program.”
Source: USA Today