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PBS Suspends Finding Your Roots After Ben Affleck Controversy

The show violated ethical standards

Liz Raftery

PBS' Finding Your Roots is on indefinite hiatus after the network determined that an episode featuring Ben Affleck violated its ethical standards. The show's third season has been postponed and PBS is holding off on committing to a fourth season until the show's editorial guidelines have been revised, The Associated Press reports.

Last year's Sony hack unearthed emails that revealed that the episode, which aired in 2014, omitted references to Affleck's ancestors owning slaves at the actor's behest. A subsequent investigation by PBS determined that the show's producers "violated PBS standards by allowing improper influence on the show's editorial process and failed to inform PBS or producing station WNET of Affleck's efforts to affect the program's content."

PBS defends censoring Ben Affleck's slave-owner ancestry

Host and executive producer Henry Louis Gates Jr. apologized to PBS in a statement and said he is working to establish new, more transparent guidelines for the program. Affleck has also apologized for attempting to censor the program, saying he was "embarrassed" about the content.

Originally, PBS stood behind Gates, saying that he opted to remove the references to slave ownership in favor of a more "compelling narrative." But now, PBS is removing Affleck's episode from all platforms, including digital, and is ordering Gates to hire additional staff members to fact-check future installments.