Ben Affleck apologizes in PBS 'Finding Your Roots' slavery uproar

Derek Jeter, Anderson Cooper and filmmaker Ken Burns discussed their slave-owning ancestors on PBS show

Ben Affleck says he's sorry about trying to rid his family tree of a slave owner.

The movie star and director — whose family history was examined in September on the PBS genealogy series "Finding Your Roots" — urged the producers to delete a reference to an ancestor who owned slaves. As an uproar ensued this week, and hacked emails about the dust-up were published on WikiLeaks, Affleck took to Facebook late Tuesday to apologize and explain.

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

In hindsight, he added, "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's worth noting that other celebrities interviewed for "Finding Your Roots" had an easier time grappling with the subject than Affleck did. Derek Jeter, Anderson Cooper and filmmaker Ken Burns all discussed their slave-owning ancestors.

Affleck said he approached his request the same way he might lobby a director about which takes to use during post-production on a movie. "This is the collaborative creative process," Affleck wrote.

The controversy has become a huge distraction for PBS, which has taken repeated criticism from the network ombudsman over its handling of the issue. The network said it has launched an internal review to figure out what went wrong.

But Affleck says he's proud he participated in "Finding Your Roots."

"While I don't like that the guy is an ancestor [of mine], I am happy that aspect of our country's history is being talked about," he wrote.

What do you think of Affleck's apology?

Twitter: @scottcollinsLAT

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