Ben Affleck asked documentary makers not to reveal he had a slave-owning ancestor, according to emails published online by whistleblower site Wikileaks. The actor featured in an episode of the PBS series Finding Your Roots, which eventually chose not to use the information in question. Affleck’s alleged request came to light in an email exchange apparently between the broadcasters and the show’s host, Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates. The communications, purportedly between Mr Gates and Sony Pictures chief executive Michael Lynton, were among hundreds of thousands of emails and documents from last year’s Sony hack that WikiLeaks put into a searchable online archive.
Here’s my dilemma: confidentially, 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 show’s host Henry Louis Gates, in an email to Sony Pictures co-chairman and chief executive Michael Lynton
In the alleged email exchange, Mr Gates asks Mr Lynton for advice on how to handle the request from Affleck, who is known for his support for liberal causes. Mr Gates apparently wrote on 22 July last year: “Now, four or five of our guests this season descend from slave owners, including Ken Burns. We’ve never had anyone ever try to censor or edit what we found. He’s a megastar. What do we do?” Wikileaks says Mr Lynton initially replied that it all depended on who knew the information was in the documentary already. Mr Gates apparently wrote on 22 July that if the public learned of it, “It would embarrass him and compromise our integrity.”