Ben Affleck Tried to Suppress Slave-Owning Ancestry | Media Training

Ben Affleck Tried to Suppress Slave-Owning Ancestry | Media Training

Hollywood star and political activist Ben Affleck got caught trying to suppress knowledge that his ancestors owned slaves. And now his detractors are have a lot of fun with this.

While I can understand anyone’s desire to downplay the family’s slave owning past, it is a little odd that someone as media and PR savvy as Affleck thought he could suppress this. As Affleck surely knows, it only takes one lawyer, administrative assistant, or personal assistant to leak the news to a reporter or to Twitter and then it’s everywhere.

Further idiocy on the part of Affleck is that fact that for a White person in America to have had a slave-owning ancestor in the last 200 years isn’t especially newsworthy, interesting, surprising or embarrassing. However, the be a rich and powerful Hollywood liberal and to use your power to get a major TV network, director and producer to remove embarrassing info about yourself from a show is, well, newsworthy, interesting, surprising and embarrassing,.

Lesson for Affleck and other famous people: just because you can temporarily suppress bad news doesn’t mean you should try, because when it eventually comes out, you will look 10 times as bad.

The best tactic for Affleck or anyone else in that situation is to let the family warts be reveled and to acknowledge them. Don’t make a big fuss. Then, focus on whatever good works you are doing to make the world a better place and let the public judge you on balance. You will usually come out way ahead.


TJ Walker is a communications consultant who advise clients on crisis communications. You can reach him at 212.764.4955


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