Columbia Daily Spectator                      March 2, 2001  

NEWS

By Ben Casselman
Spectator Campus News Editor
Columbia Daily Spectator
  

Marching Band Salutes Gore to Comedic Beat
The press was outside the Journalism School again on Wednesday, this time
                    to greet not only former Vice President and Columbia Visiting Professor Al
                    Gore, but also News Corporation Chairman Rupert Murdoch.

                    But the press were not the only ones to greet Gore on Wednesday. The
                    Columbia University Marching Band (CUMB) serenaded Gore with 'Roar
                    Lion Roar' as he approached the Journalism building.

                    Murdoch, president of News Corp., was there as Gore's guest for the former
                    vice president's third class, which Gore said would focus on ''the role of
                    conglomerates [and] the role of the owner'' in the media.

                    The class was again off-limits to the outside press, but students, who were
                    permitted to talk to reporters afterwards, said Gore asked the
                    often-controversial Murdoch, whose company owns Fox and the New York
                    Post, tough questions about his role in the media, including whether he would
                    ever distort the news. Murdoch said he would not, although he said that the
                    Post generally reflects his views.

                    After the class, Murdoch described the session as a ''lively exchange.''

                    ''It was enjoyable,'' Murdoch said as he left the building, ''a lot of intelligent,
                    sharp questions from the students. No surprises at all--reminded me of my
                    days in college.''

                    Gore was similarly positive, saying that Murdoch ''added great perspective''
                    and adding that he himself was ''getting the hang of [teaching].''

                    After Murdoch walked past two microphones in front of the entrance to the
                    building, reporters called for him to stop to answer their questions. Murdoch
                    asked one reporter where he was from, and the reporter responded that he
                    worked for Fox. 

                    Murdoch then turned around and approached the microphones that had been
                    set up for him, and jokingly tilted a CNN microphone towards the ground.
                    He would reposition the microphone from his news network's competitor
                    before starting to speak.

                    Most Columbia students did not get the chance to hear Gore hone his
                    professorial skills in the Journalism building on Wednesday, but his arrival
                    drew the largest crowd of any of his first three classes. Some 300 students
                    stood on Furnald lawn, brought out on the warm, sunny day not by the
                    former vice president or his powerful guest, but by the presence of the
                    marching band.

                    ''I hope they know 'You Can Call Me Al,''' Gore quipped.

                    They did not, but CUMB did play its own standards, such as ''Barbie Girl,''
                    ''Take on Me,'' and the 1992 Clinton-Gore campaign song, Fleetwood Mac's
                    ''Don't Stop.''

                    After Gore and Murdoch were inside the building, the self-proclaimed
                    ''Cleverest Band in the World'' delivered an Al Gore monologue, which
                    included issues such as Barnard swipe access, Clinton's leasing of an office in
                    Harlem, and the lines in Café (212).

                    Delivered by Seth Morris, CC '01, the script joked that Gore ''is enjoying a
                    number of the typical diversions practiced by first-year Columbians. After
                    getting in trouble with campus security for scrawling 'AD HOC 2001' in the
                    Carman stairwell, he proceeded to get busy with Tipper on the 10th floor of
                    the Butler stacks. 'I've been having a great time,' he exclaimed, 'Check out
                    this fake ID I got on Bleecker St! It looks so real, and it only cost me $40.'''

                    The script also included references to the controversy surrounding Gore's first
                    class, which was originally thought to be completely off-the-record.

                    ''So far, Al Gore's short tenure as a visiting professor at Columbia has not
                    been without controversy,'' Morris read. ''Appearing on The Tonight Show
                    with Jay Leno after his first lecture, he ripped the University on a number of
                    different issues and called J-School Dean Tom Goldstein a 'mole person.'''

                    Gore did not hear the script, and may not have even known it existed, but he
                    smiled broadly as he rounded the corner of the Journalism building and saw
                    the band playing.

                    As he left campus after a brief meeting in Low Library with University
                    President George Rupp, Gore said the Marching Band's greeting made him
                    feel more like a part of the Columbia community.

                    ''I love the band,'' he said.

                    For its part, CUMB managed to keep its plans largely under wraps until its
                    members marched onto Furnald Lawn at about noon, about 40 minutes
                    before Gore arrived. Morris said that no one tried to keep them from
                    performing, although he noted that the band ''didn't really tell the
                    Administration'' it was coming. 

                    A member of Gore's staff did check in with the band at one point, Morris
                    said, but only to ''make sure we weren't going to play 'Hail to the Chief.'''
                    Morris admitted the band had considered it, but decided to play ''Roar, Lion,
                    Roar'' in order to make it ''a Columbia moment.''

                    --Spectator Associate News Editor Rob Saliterman contributed to this
                    report.