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Ben Affleck Didn't Want PBS Show To Reveal His Ancestors Owned Slaves

Ben Affleck appeared on an episode of PBS' “Finding Your Roots” back in October.

The program, hosted by Henry Louis Gates, searches through the ancestries of notable individuals in order to elucidate the past.

When it comes to Affleck's ancestry, it seems one of his forebears was a slaveowner. What's more, the embarrassing information was not included in the episode at Affleck's request.

This all came to light due to the infamous Sony hack.

WikiLeaks recently created a searchable archive of the leaked information and an email chain between Gates and Sony Pictures co-chairman and chief executive Michael Lynton included the information about Affleck's ancestor.

In the October episode, “Finding Your Roots” focused on an ancestor of Affleck's who became an occultist following the civil war.

Gates claims this ancestor was chosen over the one who owned slaves because it was more interesting.

Gates said,

For any guest, we always find far more stories about ancestors on their family trees than we ever possibly could use. We decided to go with the story we used about [Affleck's] fascinating ancestor who became on occultist following the Civil War. This guy's story was totally unusual: We had never discovered someone like him before.

But the leaked emails tell a different tale, one of censorship and catering to the whims of a “megastar.”

Back in July, Gates wrote an email to Lynton saying,

Here's my dilemma: Confidentially, for the first time, one of our guests has asked us to edit out something about one of his ancestors — the fact that he owned slaves. Now, four or five of our guests this season descend from slave owners, including Ken Burns. We've never had anyone ever try to censor or edit what we found. He's a megastar. What do we do?

After much deliberation, it seems Gates and company decided to try to keep the information a secret. But, they should have known the Internet sees all.

Citations: Ben Affleck Asked PBS to Not Reveal Slave Owning Ancestor (NBC News)

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Adam Pliskin

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Adam Pliskin is the Entertainment Writer for Elite Daily. He is a native New Yorker and a massive film and TV buff. Adam is also a graduate of Brown University who holds a degree in Modern Culture and Media. He will beat you at the movie game.
Adam Pliskin is the Entertainment Writer for Elite Daily. He is a native New Yorker and a massive film and TV buff. Adam is also a graduate of Brown University who holds a degree in Modern Culture and Media. He will beat you at the movie game.

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