Gates and PBS said in April they didn’t censor the slave-owner details. Instead, more interesting ancestors of Affleck emerged and Gates chose to highlight them instead in the show that traces the ancestry of well-known guests.
But in an email exchange between Gates and Sony Pictures chief executive Michael Lynton, Gates asks Lynton for advice on how to handle Affleck’s request.
“Here’s my dilemma,” says Gates in one email, dated July 22, 2014, “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. Now, four or five of our guests this season descend from slave owners, including (documentary filmmaker) Ken Burns. We’ve never had anyone ever try to censor or edit what we found. He’s a megastar. What do we do?”