PBS Suspends Finding Your Roots Amid Ethics Concerns Following Ben Affleck Controversy
Host Henry Louis Gates Jr. also apologized for the flap
PBS is pressing the pause button on Finding Your Roots in the wake of the Ben Affleck controversy.
On Wednesday, PBS announced it is postponing the third season of the show and any commitment to a fourth season after the public television service’s internal investigation into the episode featuring the Oscar-winning star found it violated ethics standards when it omitted any mention of his slave-owning ancestor.
The review was launched after it came to light that Affleck, 42, asked host Henry Louis Gates Jr. to leave out the finding that his great-great-great-grandfather was a slave owner.
Affleck addressed the controversy on his Facebook page in April, admitting he “lobbied” Gates to omit the detail, while also stating the show is “not a news program.”
PBS’s internal review found that producers violated editorial standards when it bowed to Affleck’s request.
“PBS and WNET have determined that the series co-producers violated PBS standards by failing to shield the creative and editorial process from improper influence, and by failing to inform PBS or WNET of Mr. Affleck’s efforts to affect program content,” it said in a statement.
In a separate statement obtained by PEOPLE, Gates apologized for the flap.
“I sincerely regret not discussing my editing rationale with our partners at PBS and WNET and I apologize for putting PBS and its member stations in the position of having to defend the integrity of their programming. Throughout my many years of producing genealogy documentaries, I have always operated with rigorous ethical standards. Even so, we have been working with PBS and WETA to create new guidelines to increase transparency going forward,” he said.
“My career has been dedicated to improving race relations and intercultural understanding in our country. We are very excited about the third season of Finding Your Roots and look forward to uncovering and sharing many more incredible ancestral stories with our viewers,” he added.
PBS reportedly said the show will not return until it is satisfied with improvements to the show’s editorial standards.