Ben Affleck Is Sorry for Hiding His Slave-Owning Ancestor from You

"I was embarrassed. The very thought left a bad taste in my mouth," he wrote.

ben affleck

Ben Affleck by Jaguar PS/Shutterstock

Ben Affleck made almost immediate headlines at the brink of WikiLeaks publishing their archive of the hacked Sony emails from last November. When participating in Henry Louis Gates’s PBS program Finding Your Roots, the Boston-bred actor was outed for censoring a detail that one of his ancestors owned slaves.

Since the news was disclosed, Ben Affleck responded to the controversy in a Facebook post.

After an exhaustive search of my ancestry for “Finding Your Roots,” it was discovered that one of my distant relatives…

Posted by Ben Affleck on Tuesday, April 21, 2015


In a private email exchange between Gates and Sony CEO Michael Lynton, Gates expressed concern about how omitting this detail could jeopardize his editorial integrity. Lynton advised to abide by Affleck’s request. “I would take it out if no one knows,” Lynton wrote.

Well, now everyone knows, and you have Sony’s great tech security to thank for that, Mr. Lynton. In a statement defending his decision, Gates said, “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.”

Since then, PBS launched an “internal investigation” stemming from Affleck’s scandal to “determine whether or not all of PBS’ editorial standards were observed,” the network said in a statement.

So in spite of trying to avoid public embarrassment, it looks like Ben Affleck, in turn, received a bit of public embarrassment. Whoops.