New York Times editorialist Lawrence Downes (5/4/09) has some good questions about Pete Seeger's big 90th birthday party. The broadcast surely is bound to "be a PBS special made in pledge-week heaven," but Downes has to "wonder, though, how many of the angry moments will survive":
Will we hear the Native American musicians pleading for support in their battle with Peabody Energy? Peabody is a giant strip-mining company that has been at the center of lawsuits by Southwestern tribes over drinking water and income from mineral rights.
Will we hear the praise for the Clean Water Act of 1972, or the acid remark from one of the Indians: "Ever since that man by the name of Hudson went up that river, it's gone to hell."
The evening was, after all, a benefit for Clearwater, the name of an organization and a boat, both built by Mr. Seeger, that have fought for decades to rescue the Hudson River from life as an industrial sewer. The job isn't done. Remember PCBs? General Electric dumped tons of them in the river. The company is about ready to dredge them out, but for now they are still there, seeping downriver and into fish.
Some insight into the priorities likely to hold sway in PBS's editing process may be gleaned from the "public" network's long-standing close relationship with at least one major sponsor… General Electric.