‘Finding Your Roots’ Suspended Following Omission Of Ben Affleck’s Slave-Owning Relative
PBS has suspended the future season of its genealogy show Finding Your Roots after looking into the episode for which Ben Affleck managed to convince producers to omit the content about his slave-owning relative.
‘Finding Your Roots’ Suspended
On Wednesday, PBS announced that the third season of Finding Your Roots will be suspended until it hires a fact checker. By allowing Affleck to have “improper influence” over the content of the show and “failing to inform PBS or WNET of Mr. Affleck’s efforts to affect program content,” PBS claims that Finding Your Roots producers violated network standards.
In emails that were leaked between host Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Sony executive Michael Lynton, Gates expressed his concerns about censoring the history of a “megastar,” who was asking to keep a troubling relative out of the program. “Once we open the door to censorship, we lose control of the brand,” Gates admitted at the time, though he went on to “open the door to censorship” all the same.
“I sincerely regret not discussing my editing rationale with our partners at PBS and WNET,” Gates said in a statement to The New York Times Wednesday, “and I apologize for putting PBS and its member stations in the position of having to defend the integrity of their programming.”
After the emails were leaked, Affleck expressed his regret for lobbying Finding Your Roots to keep the distant relative out of his episode.
“I didn’t want any television show about my family to include a guy who owned slaves,” Affleck explained. “I was embarrassed. The very thought of it left a bad taste in my mouth.”
“I regret my initial thoughts that the issue of slavery not be included in the story. We deserve neither 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,” Affleck continued. “It is an examination well worth continuing. I am glad that my story, however indirectly, will contribute to that discussion. While I don’t like that the guy is an ancestor, I am happy that aspect of our country’s history is being talked about.”