Ben Affleck Told PBS Not to Reveal He Had a Slave-Owning Relative

Have you guys heard of the PBS show called Finding Your Roots? It's pretty fascinating and unique in that it dives deep into the ancestral histories of some of your favorite celebrities. Well, thanks to all of those pesky Sony emails that were recently leaked, we found out something pretty scandalous about Ben Affleck: he had a slave-owning relative. And that isn't even the most shocking part.


Thanks to WikiLeaks, we recently learned that Ben was, naturally, upset when he discovered one of his ancestors owned slaves. Shoot, who wouldn't find that reprehensible? But we've also discovered Ben was not about to let the world know his family secret, so he demanded that PBS delete that one relative out of the episode.

The show's host, Henry Louis Gates Jr., was initially dumbfounded by this request, which he said was the first of its kind to be made, despite four or five other people discovering they, too, had slave-owning ancestors. He emailed Sony's president for advice, which is how the secret info ultimately managed to leak. Sony suggested they edit it out if no one else knew about it yet, but warned him that things could get "tricky" if anyone found out.

Well, they found out and now things are indeed "tricky." In my opinion, this one silly decision makes the show lose a lot of credibility—and for what reason? Sure, Affleck might have been embarrassed, but he could have also spun it around and reminded people that slavery was a part of American history, one that we should always remember so that those same cruel pasts acts are never again repeated.

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Affleck has yet to comment on this "scandal." Gates, however, released the following statement, defending his decision to make the edit:

Ultimately, I maintain editorial control on all of my projects and, with my producers, decide what will make for the most compelling program. In the case of Mr. Affleck—we focused on what we felt were the most interesting aspects of his ancestry—including a Revolutionary War ancestor, a 3rd great–grandfather who was an occult enthusiast, and his mother who marched for Civil Rights during the Freedom Summer of 1964.

What do you think about Ben Affleck's demand that PBS edit info about his slave-owning relative? Should he have owned up to his past?


Image via Mark Wilson/Getty Images

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