Ben Affleck is not having a great week. As rumors fly that his marriage to Jennifer Garner is on the rocks, it appears he may’ve also gotten the PBS genealogy show Finding Your Roots cancelled by requesting that his slave-owning ancestors be omitted from the show.
Thanks to Affleck’s request for genealogical omission (for which he’s apologized), the show’s third season has been postponed until the production team hires a fact checker and an independent genealogist, according to the New York Times. The public learned about all of this through the Sony Wikileaks hack, which turned up an email written by Finding Your Roots host and Harvard professor Dr. Henry Louis “Skip” Gates Jr., saying a certain “megastar” wanted to bend history and generally fuck shit up.
“We’ve never had anyone ever try to censor or edit what we found,” Mr. Gates wrote to a Sony executive, Michael Lynton, in July 2014. Mr. Gates added that this would violate PBS rules, and “once we open the door to censorship, we lose control of the brand.”
Ben also had a relative in the Revolutionary War, and another who was an occult enthusiast—his ancestry is interesting, and shouldn’t be flinched away from. Anyway, people put two and two together and realized the “megastar” was Affleck after his Finding The Roots episode aired sans his slave-owning family history.
Subsequently, PBS investigated and found that Affleck had “improper influence,” like Gates had intimated and also allowed. Additionally, the network found that producers had failed “to inform PBS or WNET of Mr. Affleck’s efforts to affect program content.” Now Finding Your Roots might not get renewed for a fourth season because PBS doesn’t have patience for a history show that might leave out the history.
This time, it was Gates that had to apologize, in a statement he released on Wednesday:
“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.”
White people, you are white in America, which means you probably have some ancestors who either owned slaves or believed in segregation or relished Jim Crow or generally at some point didn’t care about the humanity of black people. It is what it is. If Black Americans bear the weight of their ancestors, the slaves and the sharecroppers, white Americans certainly can’t cut Willie Lynch off the family tree.
Contact the author at Hillary@jezebel.com.
Image via AP.