AT&T was carrying Pearl Jam’s August 5 Lollapalooza performance live—or apparently live—on the company’s “Blue Room” music site when listeners weren’t able to hear some key political lyrics from Eddie Vedder.
These included “George Bush, leave this world alone,” and “George Bush, find yourself another home,” according to the Pearl Jam website and the Chicago Tribune, which broke the story on August 9.
“This, of course, troubles us as artists but also as citizens concerned with the issue of censorship and the increasingly consolidated control of the media,” Pearl Jam said on its website.
“AT&T’s actions strike at the heart of the public’s concerns over the power that corporations have when it comes to determining what the public sees and hears through communications media. . . . What happened to us this weekend was a wake up call, and it’s about something much bigger than the censorship of a rock band.”
AT&T spokesperson Tiffany Nells told the Chicago Tribune, “This was an honest mistake. There was no censorship intended.”
After an outcry erupted, AT&T published the following apology on its Blue Room homepage:
“We screwed up on Sunday night when we deleted some lyrics from a live Pearl Jam performance that we were webcasting on attblueroom.com,” the statement reads. “We understand why Pearl Jam and their fans are upset. We’re upset, too, and embarrassed by this mistake which is totally against our policyof never, ever censoring political speech. . . . We apologize to Pearl Jam, Lollapalooza, and music fans everywhere.”
Advocates of Internet neutrality see AT&T’s censorship of Pearl Jam as an example of what may lie in store for all of us if Congress gives in to the big corporate players and does not ensure a level playing field on the worldwide web.
For more information on this issue, go to www.savetheinternet.com.