Ben Affleck's Freakout Over Slaveowner Ancestor Gets PBS Show Suspended
The PBS show mired in controversy after it was revealed Ben Affleck pressured producers to hide his ugly family history has been suspended.In a statement released on Wednesday, PBS and Finding Your Roots producing station WNET says the show's third season has been postponed after producers failed to "shield the creative and editorial process from improper influence." In April it was revealed, from an email uncovered in Wikileaks' Sony hack dump, that Ben Affleck had pressured the show's producers into omitting any mention of a slave-owning ancestor from the episode he appeared on. "We've never had anyone ever try to censor or edit what we found. He's a megastar. What do we do?" asked host and executive producer Henry Louis Gates, Jr. in an email to Sony CEO Michael Lyton.
PBS said the Sony leak reveal was the first time they had heard of Affleck's request, and that they both launched an internal investigation the day after the media began reporting on the emails. Aside from folding to Affleck's wishes, the broadcaster also says the producers failed to inform them of his request. The episode, which aired in October, has now been pulled.
In response, PBS said they would not air the show's third season until changes are made in the production staff that would "ensure that the problems that arose" would not happen again. A fact-checker would also be employed for the forthcoming season. PBS also said it was non-committal about a fourth season.
"I sincerely regret not discussing my editing rationale with our partners at PBS and WNET, and I apologize for putting PBS and its member stations in the position of having to defend the integrity of their programming," said Gates in a statement to the media.
After the whole incident was uncovered in April, Affleck said he "regret" his "initial thoughts" that set off the chain of events.