Fans waiting for new episodes of PBS’ “Finding Your Roots” have Ben Affleck and host Henry Louis Gates Jr. to blame for the show’s suspension. In April, it was revealed that the show—which traces celebrity family trees—uncovered that one of Affleck’s relatives owned slaves. “Embarrassed,” the actor asked producers to leave that information out of his October 2014 episode. Leaked e-mails showed that they complied.
After an internal review, PBS found that Gates and his production team “violated PBS standards by failing to shield the creative and editorial process from improper influence, and by failing to inform PBS or WNET [the member station involved in production] of Mr. Affleck’s efforts to affect program content.”
Production of the third season of “Finding Your Roots” has officially been suspended, pending required updates that will give PBS and season-three producing station WETA more oversight, including the addition of another staff researcher and an independent genealogist to review all episodes for factual accuracy. Affleck’s episode has also been recalled and season four is up in the air until the team can prove its ability to meet editorial standards.
Gates issued an apology on Wednesday saying, “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.”