PBS: Ben Affleck an 'Improper Influence'

Finding Your Roots has been put on hold
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 25, 2015 3:52 AM CDT
PBS : Finding Your Roots on Hold
Actor Ben Affleck testifies on Capitol Hill earlier this year.   (AP Photo/Lauren Victoria Burke, File)

After the Ben Affleck embarrassment, is Finding Your Roots now the kind of show that won't hush things up on the say-so of a Hollywood star? Sounds like PBS isn't sure: It says an internal review has "determined that the series co-producers violated PBS standards by failing to shield the creative and editorial process from improper influence" and that it will delay the show's third series until it hires an independent genealogist and an extra fact-checker, Variety reports. PBS says it won't commit to a fourth series until it's sure the "editorial standards of the series have been successfully raised to a level in which we can have confidence."

The Sony hack uncovered an email from host Henry Louis Gates Jr. to Sony chief Michael Lynton saying Affleck had "asked us to edit out something about one of his ancestors"—his slave-owning great-great-great-grandfather. After PBS announced the results of its review, Gates issued a statement promising increased transparency and apologizing "for putting PBS and its member stations in the position of having to defend the integrity of their programming." PBS says the Affleck episode will be withdrawn from all forms of distribution, the AP reports. (Fewer people would have heard about Affleck's ancestor if he hadn't meddled, though some experts believe he was actually holding the slaves in trust.)

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