WASHINGTON – At 3:25 p.m. Friday, the hottest document in the nation was handed to Patti Girmachew, the Capitol Hill branch manager of Kinko’s copiers.
“It’s here,” she nearly whispered, holding a copy of independent counsel Kenneth Starr’s report. “I’m going to go make copies.”
Even though the same report was readily available on the Internet, printed copies were in demand Friday afternoon. Some reporters were already waiting for copies of the 445-page report and more arrived as the copy machine started churning in Girmachew’s shop at 317 Pennsylvania Ave. SE.
The first person to get a copy tore out of the Kinko’s without looking back. Refusing to speak to anyone, he jumped into a beat-up blue car and disappeared.
One by one reporters dashed out of Kinko’s, clutching the little brown boxes that contained the report. An hour after the report arrived, 45 copies had been printed in Girmachew’s shop and the Kinko’s on New York Avenue had printed about 40 copies.
Diane DeVore of United Press International waited about two hours for the report, which cost $35 to copy. She said UPI was also monitoring the Internet for the report.
“We’re just covering our bases and I happen to be covering this one,” she said.
Norman Fu of the China Times waited nearly four hours for his copy because, he said, he is not very proficient with computers.
Fu expected to get the report before it was published on the Internet, which turned out not to be the case. He said that by the time he gets his copy, “the story will be history.”
Kinko’s learned Thursday that it would be getting the Starr report from the congressional press gallery for distribution to press members only.
Laura McCormick, head of public relations for Kinko’s, said the printing chain will sell the report to “any interested customer” at most of its 870 national branches once it has been posted online.
But those looking for just the juicy parts will be disappointed. Kinko’s will not sell the document piece by piece, said McCormick.
Elizabeth Ankney, a housewife from Falls Church, Va., was furious as she waited to get some pictures enlarged at the Capitol Hill Kinko’s.
She called the mob of anxious reporters “inquisitors” and said they represent “the poorest example of what America should be.”
“If I had a job like that I would give it up,” she said.
An hour after the report arrived, the copy room at the Capitol Hill Kinko’s had pretty much cleared out. Associate Manager Anita Peterson seemed a lot calmer than she had been a few minutes earlier.
“OK, we’re ahead of the game,” she said. “Let’s keep running.”