Sunday, April 19, 2015

PBS Drops Their Pants for Ben Affleck

Ben Affleck, a Hollywood star big enough that even I have heard of him, was featured on a PBS TV show about genealogy called 'Finding Your Roots'. The idea of the show apparently is that some celebrity comes on the show, researchers find the celeb's ancestry, and the celeb comments on what they've found. I haven't watched it, but it sound no worse than most TV shows.

Anyway, Affleck was unhappy that the researchers found that one of his ancestors was a slave owner, so he demanded that that fact be deleted from the show.
In an email exchange posted by WikiLeaks, the genealogy program's host Henry Louis Gates Jr. nervously asked a top Sony executive for "advice" in handling Affleck's special request. 
". . . 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," the Harvard scholar told Sony chief Michael Lynton in the email chain dated July 22, 2014. 
Gates suggested that the censoring could tarnish their branding if word got out and would ultimately be a violation of PBS rules, "even for Batman."
What Affleck wants covered up about his past is his business, I guess. I certainly don't care who his ancestors were. I'm a bit surprised that he'd think it damaging to his public image that somebody in his family tree more than 150 years ago was involved in slavery.

However, Affleck, as is typical of most Hollywood folks, is heavy into left-wing politics; which leads to be real hypocrisy here, that PBS will roll over for big-name lefties. PBS, of course, denies that it did so, pretending that the decision to omit facts that Affleck was uncomfortable dealing with was an editing decision having nothing to do with Affleck.
In a statement responding to the hacked emails Friday, Gates defended their decision to edit out that chapter of Affleck's lineage, reasoning that it wasn't "interesting" enough."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," he stated in part. 
"We are very grateful to all of our guests for allowing us into their personal lives and have told hundreds of stories in this series including many about slave ancestors-never shying away from chapters of a family's past that might be unpleasant." 
PBS further stated that Gates made an "independent editorial judgment" when choosing what would go into the episode. It's a decision they stand by.

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