Instant Gratification


The instant that Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr sent his impeachment report to Congress on September 11, the race was on to get the report before the public. Copies were distributed to legislators, the White House, and members of the press; it was also posted it on the Thomas Web site maintained by the Library of Congress (thomas.loc.gov). Soon after the initial release, however, the private sector took over.

Within hours, hundreds of Web sites–operated by sources as diverse as CNN, Yahoo, Netscape, and REASON–had posted the 453-page document. Hundreds of newspapers put the report on their Web sites and many made excerpts available on old-fashioned newsprint the next day. Some, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, andthe Boston Globe, reprinted the report in its entirety.

The first bound version of the Starr report hit bookstores Monday the 14th, as Prima Publishing's Forum division released a copy of the report and sold it for $9.99. On Tuesday, two other bound versions hit stores. For $10, Public Affairs offered the report, the initial White House rebuttal, and analysis from the staff of The Washington Post. Pocket Books offered the cheapest version ($5.99), including the rebuttal and an outline of the history of the Starr investigation by reporter Phil Kuntz of The Wall Street Journal.

But if you weren't in a hurry and money was no object, you could get a copy of the Starr report from the Government Printing Office by paying $14 and waiting an unspecified time for delivery by the U.S. Postal Service–unless, of course, you lived within easy driving distance of a GPO bookstore.