Ben Affleck


UPDATE: Ben Affleck took to Twitter less than one day after breaking his silence on Facebook, to answer a few more burning questions fans had after his Finding Roots controversy went public.

"Lots of people have bene asking who the guy was. His name was Benjamin Cole—lived in Georgia on my Mom's side about six generations back," he wrote.

The father of three also added several comments on Facebook, including explaining exactly how he found out about his ancestor through the show's research.


Affleck went searching for his roots and ended up finding more than he bargained for.

And he admits it.

"After an exhaustive search of my ancestry for Finding Your Roots, it was discovered that one of my distant relatives was an owner of slaves," Affleck wrote on Facebook Tuesday, breaking his silence on the controversy kicked up by a leaked Sony email that revealed the actor specifically requested that that limb of his family tree be left out of his episode of the PBS series Finding Your Roots.

"I didn't want any television show about my family to include a guy who owned slaves. I was embarrassed. The very thought left a bad taste in my mouth," he continued.

Ben Affleck, Finding Your Roots


"Skip [Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr.] decided what went into the show. I lobbied him the same way I lobby directors about what takes of mine I think they should use. This is the collaborative creative process. Skip agreed with me on the slave owner but made other choices I disagreed with. In the end, it's his show and I knew that going in. I'm proud to be his friend and proud to have participated."

Gates and PBS had previously defended the choice to leave Affleck's slave-owning ancestry out of the episode, with Gates noting that he maintains "editorial control on all" of his projects and the network calling it "an independent editorial judgment."

Affleck, meanwhile, suggested that the show didn't have a journalistic responsibility to include everything that was discovered.

"It's important to remember that this isn't a news program," his post continued. "Finding Your Roots is a show where you voluntarily provide a great deal of information about your family, making you quite vulnerable. The assumption is that they will never be dishonest but they will respect your willingness to participate and not look to include things you think would embarrass your family.

Ben Affleck, Finding Your Roots


"I regret my initial thoughts that the issue of slavery not be included in the story. We deserve neither credit nor blame for our ancestors and the degree of interest in this story suggests that we are, as a nation, still grappling with the terrible legacy of slavery. It is an examination well worth continuing. I am glad that my story, however indirectly, will contribute to that discussion. While I don't like that the guy is an ancestor, I am happy that aspect of our country's history is being talked about."

Meanwhile, PBS and WNET announced today that they are now conducting an internal review, led by their respective programming teams, into the "circumstances around" the Affleck episode, "Roots of Freedom."

"This matter came to PBS' attention on Friday morning, April 17," they said in a statement obtained by E! News. "Professor Gates and his producers immediately responded to our initial questions. In order to gather the facts to determine whether or not all of PBS' editorial standards were observed, on Saturday, April 18, we began an internal review. We have been moving forward deliberately yet swiftly to conduct this review."

(This story was originally published on April 21  5:06 p.m.)

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