Non-leftist Americans can be forgiven for thinking that the media has become one giant progressive racket for people who all share exactly the same social and political attitudes. So good for PBS for yanking, at least temporarily, Finding Your Roots after it was learned that Harvard professor Henry Louis “Skip” Gates deliberately excised Ben Affleck’s slave-owning ancestors from the genealogy program:
PBS is pumping the brakes on Finding Your Roots because an internal investigation has helped the broadcaster confirm that Ben Affleck convinced the show to abandon its editorial ethics and withhold the truth. PBS began the investigation after the Sony hacks revealed emails that showed Affleck asked the show censor info linking his bloodline to a slave owner. Execs from PBS and New York’s WNET conducted the review, noting “that the series co-producers violated PBS standards by failing to shield the creative and editorial process from improper influence, and by failing to inform PBS or WNET of Mr. Affleck’s efforts to affect program content.” The New York Times reports that the broadcaster won’t go forward with the show’s third season until there are staffing changes, including the hiring of a fact checker and an independent genealogist (which you think they’d want from the get-go).
Henry Louis Gates Jr., the host of the show, emailed top Sony exec Michael Lynton last July to see what they should do with Affleck’s request for omission. The episode broadcast last October, and did not include any references to the ancestor in question. “I sincerely regret not discussing my editing rationale with our partners at PBS and WNET, and I apologize for putting PBS and its member stations in the position of having to defend the integrity of their programming,” Gates said in a statement. “[W]e have been working … to create new guidelines to increase transparency going forward.”
Variety points out that PBS also won’t commit to a fourth season “until we are satisfied that the editorial standards of the series have been successfully raised to a level in which we can have confidence.”
The Times notes:
The show, which is hosted by the Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., traces family histories of celebrities and public figures, and has run for two seasons. The concern about Mr. Affleck’s relative surfaced in the WikiLeaks cache of hacked Sony emails after Mr. Gates asked a Sony executive for advice about a “megastar” who wanted to omit a detail about a slave-owning ancestor.
“We’ve never had anyone ever try to censor or edit what we found,” Mr. Gates wrote to a Sony executive, Michael Lynton, in July 2014. Mr. Gates added that this would violate PBS rules, and “once we open the door to censorship, we lose control of the brand.” When the episode was broadcast in October, it did not mention the slave-owning ancestor. After the emails were posted to WikiLeaks, Mr. Gates said that producers had discovered more interesting ancestors from Mr. Affleck’s family, including a relative from the Revolutionary War and an occult enthusiast.
Mr. Affleck said in April that he was “embarrassed” when he discovered that he was related to a slave owner. “I didn’t want any television show about my family to include a guy who owned slaves,” Mr. Affleck wrote on Facebook.
Remember: the Left always takes care of its own. Its subversion of education, journalism and entertainment really has been one of the crimes of the century. But then, they never really believed in the free exchange of ideas and freedom of speech anyway, unless it benefited them.
Make sure to read this from Raymond Ibrahim: