PBS, Ben Affleck respond to actor asking to hide slave-owning ancestor; investigation underway

The Public Broadcast System is conducting an internal investigation over the disclosure that Hollywood star Ben Affleck successfully lobbied to have his slave owning ancestor scrubbed from a documentary on his family history.

PBS and its New York affiliate WNET released a joint statement Tuesday confirming the investigation began Saturday.

“We have been moving forward deliberately yet swiftly to conduct this review,” PBS spokeswoman Anne Bentley wrote.

Meanwhile, Affleck released a statement of his own on his Facebook page Tuesday.

“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,” he wrote.

“I didn’t want any television show about my family to include a guy who owned slaves. I was embarrassed.” he admitted.

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The actor said he lobbied “Finding Your Roots” host Henry Louis Gates “the same way I lobby directors about what takes of mine I think they should use.”

“It’s important to remember that this isn’t a news program,” Affleck said. “You voluntarily provide a great deal of information about your family, making you quite vulnerable. The assumption is that they will never be dishonest but they will respect your willingness to participate and not look to include things you think would embarrass your family.”


Ben Affleck had PBS censor his family tree to hide slave owner ancestor, leaked email reveals.

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Carmine Sabia


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