AT&T vs. Pearl Jam: Corporate America Caught Red-Handed

Not that this is going to change anything…

When I first heard about AT&T censoring Pearl Jam’s webcast, I’ll admit that my initial reaction was, “Oh whatever, Eddie.” It just seems so expected these days, like how NBC cut Kanye’s “George Bush doesn’t care about black people” statement from the West Coast feed and regretted not bleeping it from the live feed. That’s how it goes.

But like all good tales of political intrigue, it’s not the “crime” that gets you, it’s the cover-up. And had AT&T not immediately blown off the whole incident as a “mistake by a webcast vendor,” everybody probably would have stopped paying attention. But they pushed it a little too far, claiming, “We’ve webcast more than 16 free concerts featuring approximately 310 bands and over 350 hours of live music, and this hasn’t happened before.” Oh really? Never?

Turns out, of course, that it has happened before. Lots of times.

And now that this fact is undeniable, AT&T is backtracking: “It’s not our intent to edit political comments in webcasts on the Unfortunately, it has happened in the past in a handful of cases. We have taken steps to ensure that it won’t happen again.” Oh yeah? Like what?

Maybe they should start by firing that third-party vendor, Davie Brown Entertainment, that produces AT&T’s webcasts? It was their mistake, right? Adam Smith, the executive vice president of Davie Brown, took responsability and claimed, “Our policy is not to edit any performance at all — never, ever.” Sure.

But, oops, now a former crew member is blabbing: “I can definitively say that at a previous event where AT&T was covering the show, the instructions were to shut it down if there was any swearing or if anybody starts getting political.” Oh shit. Busted.

So where did these instructions come from? From Davie Brown? They’re part of Omnicom Group Inc., which sounds ominous, but who knows? Check out its Board of Directors. They’ve donated some money to George W. Bush in 2004, but not nearly as much as the $212,920 that AT&T raised for their guy, making them one of Bush’s top 20 contributors. It’s a good bet that the instructions came straight from AT&T, pals of the president.

MTV’s Gil Kaufman makes another damning point: “AT&T said the only cuts it makes are for profanity, because the Blue Room has no age restrictions, but a Pearl Jam spokesperson noted that fans forwarded more than 20 incidents of the F-word that got through the Lolla broadcast of PJ’s show, while the Bush lines did not.” So it appears that the entire reason the censors were there was to cut anti-Bush rhetoric.

Yet if you think about this critically, you’ve got to wonder… Why would they care? Does AT&T really give a shit what a bunch of Pearl Jam fans think of the President? I mean, really. I love a good conspiracy as much as anybody, and this is definitely a good one, but I still find it hard to believe that they would bother with the hassle just to shield their feeble-minded Boy King from a little flack from a bunch of long-haired commie lumberjacks like Pearl Jam.

Is Bush really that fragile? Is his psyche so vulnerable that Eddie Vedder clumsily altering the lyrics to a fucking Pink Floyd song (“George Bush, leave this world alone!”) would throw him over the edge? Heaven knows his ratings are already in the shitter. Even if everybody who was listening to the Lollapalooza webcast decided to vote Democrat in 2008, would it make any difference? Would it affect AT&T at all? Would it help shape net neutrality laws in any way? Doubtful.

But that’s the funny thing about Big Corporations. You’d imagine that they’d behave more logically than they actually do. Their twisted sense of self-preservation often forces them into wild, irrational acts that can only be understood by those whose souls are equally warped by greed and corruption and general depravity and perversion.

So why would AT&T deliberately censor Pearl Jam’s rhetoric? It’s simple, actually. Corporate America hates us for our freedom.

Pearl Jam – “Daughter” (live at Lollapalooza, uncensored)

Pearl Jam – “Daughter” (live at Lollapalooza, censored by AT&T)

Thanks to Jim DeRogatis for pointing me to that article.

2 thoughts on “AT&T vs. Pearl Jam: Corporate America Caught Red-Handed”

  1. That’s it exactly–it’s not the censorship so much as the lying about censorship. Have the balls to say “these comments are not appropriate blah blah.”

    Maybe the publicity works on PJs favor. There is no band as relentlessly un-musical as PJ that gets the amount of respect they do but for all their stickin it to The Man.

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