Earlier this year, Ben Affleck suffered quite the public perception blow when the massive Sony hack produced a troubling exchange of emails centered on the PBS series Finding Your Roots. Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. — the host of the genealogy exploration docuseries — emailed (now former) Sony chief Michael Lynton following a request from Affleck that his respective episode should omit the discovery of a slave-owning ancestor from the Affleck family tree.
In the leaked emails, Gates asks Lynton what should be done — adding that, though he's "never had anyone ever try to censor or edit what we found [on previous episodes]," Affleck is a "megastar" apparently worthy of an exception to the burdensome rule of traditional integrity. Lynton essentially agrees, positing that things will get "tricky" if Affleck's editing notes are ever exposed — before concluding that he should "definitely take it out." In the wake of the scandal, PBS ordered an extensive internal review of the show's practices.
The review concludes that Finding Your Roots producers violated network standards by succumbing to Affleck's "improper influence." Furthermore, the review finds that producers failed to inform PBS of Affleck's (ultimately successful) attempts at altering the program's content. As a result, PBS has decided to temporarily suspend the series — thus not committing to a fourth season until a fact-checker and an independent genealogist are hired in an effort to ensure proper editorial processes in the future. Additionally, the Affleck episode of Finding Your Roots will be removed from all platforms.