Review concludes Ben Affleck pressured ‘Finding Your Roots’ producers to omit facts
NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — PBS announced on Wednesday that it will postpone the third season of “Finding Your Roots” following an internal review that concluded actor Ben Affleck improperly influenced the show to omit the fact that his ancestors owned slaves.
The review by PBS and its New York station WNET was released on Wednesday and found that the series’ co-producers “violated PBS standards by failing to shield the creative and editorial process from improper influence, and by failing to inform PBS or WNET of Mr. Affleck’s efforts to affect program content.”
The probe stemmed from reports in April that Affleck had asked the show to edit out the fact that his family history involved the ownership of slaves.
The episode that included the omissions was aired in October 2014 and is known at PBS as number 204.
“PBS will also withdraw episode #204 from all forms of distribution including on-air, digital platforms and home video,” PBS said.
A fourth season of “Finding Your Roots” is up in the air until the station is “satisfied that the editorial standards of the series have been successfully raised” to a level of confidence, the broadcaster said.
Those steps include employing an “independent genealogist to review all versions of program episodes for factual accuracy.”
The media learned of Affleck’s influence of the episode from hacked e-mails between the show’s host Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton.
Affleck admitted on Facebook to the making his request soon after the controversy spilled into the public.
“I didn’t want any television show about my family to include a guy who owned slaves. I was embarrassed. The very thought left a bad taste in my mouth,” Affleck wrote in apology on Facebook in April. “I regret my initial thoughts that the issue of slavery not be included in the story.”
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