Ben Affleck has broken his silence over a controversial decision to leave out an ancestor’s history of slave ownership on PBS documentary series, “Finding Your Roots.”
“I didn’t want any television show about my family to include a guy who owned slaves. I was embarrassed,” he wrote on Facebook Tuesday. “The very thought left a bad taste in my mouth.”
Affleck’s request of show producer Henry Louis Gates, Jr. to exclude his slave-owning ancestor from the program was discovered in emails uncovered in the Sony hack and first reported last week.
Criticism of Affleck’s request and PBS’s decision to honour it was quickly criticised on social media, newspaper op-ed columns, and by public figures.
In his statement, Affleck confirms that he “lobbied” Gates to exclude the record of his ancestor and expressed regret for doing so.
At the same time, he argued that “Finding Your Roots” isn’t a news program, which means his influence on the program shouldn’t be viewed similarly to affecting change in a news program which would have more stringent policies on his request to exclude part of the story.
“I regret my initial thoughts that the issue of slavery not be included in the story,” the “Batman Vs. Superman” actor said. “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.”
PBS released a statement on Tuesday stating that it is continuing to look into the decision that excluded Affleck’s slave-owning ancestor.
“PBS and WNET are conducting an internal review led by our respective programming teams of the circumstances around ‘Finding Your Roots’ episode ‘Roots of Freedom,'” the network said.
After the initial emails showing the exclusion of Affleck’s slave-owning relative, Gates released the following statement explaining that he made the decision based on what was most “interesting.”:
“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.”
NOW WATCH: Netflix’s new ‘Daredevil’ show looks way better than Ben Affleck’s version of the superhero
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.