Ben Affleck asked PBS to edit out his slave-owning ancestor from the actor's edition of ‘Finding Your Roots’, it has been reported. A leaked email exchange between the show's host Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr and Sony chief Michael Lynton, shows the two debated editing out the ancestor after the actor made the request.

Ben AffleckBen Affleck’s edition of ‘Finding Your Roots’ has become a hot topic after the latest round of leaked emails.

". . . 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 professor told Sony chief Michael Lynton in the email chain dated July 22, 2014.

Gates then said that editing out the ancestor would tarnish the show’s reputation and would also be a violation of PBS rules “even for Batman.” "Now, four or five of our guests this season descend from slave owners, including Ken Burns," Gates continued adding that the ancestor in question"wasn't even a bad guy.”

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"Now Anderson Cooper's ancestor was a real s.o.b.; one of his slaves actually murdered him. Of course, the slave was promptly hanged. And Anderson didn't miss a beat about that," he added.

Lynton later replied to the professor saying, "I would take it out if no one knows, but if it gets out that you are editing the material based on this kind of sensitivity then it gets tricky. Again, all things being equal I would definitely take it out." 

Responding to the leaked emails Professor Gates released statement yesterday saying, "The mission of Finding Your Roots is to find and share interesting stories from our celebrity guests' ancestries and use those stories to unlock new ways to learn about our past. 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.”

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"I maintain editorial control on all of my projects and, with my producers, decide what will make for the most compelling program. In the case of Mr. Affleck—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 added.

PBS also backed the host and Affleck in their own statement saying, "It is clear from the exchange how seriously Professor Gates takes editorial integrity. He has told us that after reviewing approximately ten hours of footage for the episode, he and his producers made an independent editorial judgment to choose the most compelling narrative. The range and depth of the stories on Finding Your Roots speak for themselves.”