Ben Affleck’s slavery ancestry was denied by the actor after it was uncovered during a television show, which led to an attempted cover-up exposed during the infamous Sony email hack last year.
Now, Affleck is apologizing for attempting to force the network to remove the portion in which the revelation is made. Finding Your Roots is a documentary on PBS, in which Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. helps people discover their ancestry.
Working with a team of genealogists, Gates uncovers the “paper trail left behind by our ancestors and the world’s leading geneticists to decode our DNA and help us travel thousands of years into the past to discover the origins of our earliest forebears.”
Sounds simple enough, but for Ben Affleck, the slavery ancestry uncovered in the show was a problem, and he attempted a cover-up. Maybe we would have never found out, but not for the Sony email hack, which revealed the length to which Affleck went to stop PBS from airing that portion of the show.
The attempted cover-up has forced the Batman v Superman actor to explain himself, and on Tuesday night, he issued the following lengthy statement on his Facebook page. Affleck explains that he didn’t want a slave owner to be revealed as part of his ancestry, and while he doesn’t regret participating, Affleck was embarrassed about his slavery ancestry.
“It’s important to remember that this isn’t a news program. Finding Your Roots is a show where 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.”
“I regret my initial thoughts that the issue of slavery not be included in the story. 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. It is an examination well worth continuing. I am glad that my story, however indirectly, will contribute to that discussion. While I don’t like that the guy is an ancestor, I am happy that aspect of our country’s history is being talked about.”
This admission didn’t come without controversy, after Gates issued a statement insisting he retained “editorial control” while Ben Affleck was accused of not owning up to his troubling family ancestry. The issue has started a conversation in a nation who still feels guilty for what slavery did to divide Americans.
Responding to accusations of attempted censorship by multiple outlets and comments left on Facebook, Affleck explained.
“…when I told Skip (Gates) I was uneasy about the slave owner, he told me he had not included it in his preliminary cut because there wasn’t much detail – a name and no details, so he wasn’t going with it to begin with. He also told me they would do a book later with a more complete story, and I said I would be happy to participate and talk about the issues more broadly.”
This seems to contradict leaked emails between Gates and Sony’s chief executive, Michael Lynton, obtained by Wikileaks, in which Lynton contends that agreeing to Ben Affleck’s requests “would be a violation of PBS rules, even for Batman.” The network announced Tuesday it has opened an investigation to determine whether or not all “PBS’ editorial standards were observed,” according to the Hollywood Reporter.
What do you think of the Ben Affleck slavery ancestry cover-up scandal?
[Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images]