Glitch in the Starrs

Tom Whore (
Wed, 16 Sep 1998 17:37:57 -0700 (PDT)

Glitches Altered Starr Report Online, in Post
By John Mintz and Nathan Abse
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, September 16, 1998; Page A34

Computer glitches brought on by the haste of events last Friday caused
scores of errors in the footnotes of the version of independent counsel
Kenneth W. Starr's report that was printed in The Washington Post and some
other newspapers on Saturday and that the House of Representatives put out
on the Internet when the report was released.

In this case, Starr's team had written the 453-page report using
WordPerfect software. The problem arose when technicians at the House
clerk's office and the House Oversight Committee, who oversee the House's
massive information technology operations, converted the document on
Friday to the format used on the Internet, called HTML or hypertext markup

The report suddenly sprouted footnotes that previously had been trimmed by
Starr's prosecutors and dropped some words intended for publication. In
some cases, footnote numbers were removed from the main text where they

Here's one type of glitch that cropped up: When one edits out footnoted
material in WordPerfect, the document inserts an invisible symbol into the
text that says, in effect, ignore the following passage. But the
conversion to HTML had the effect of inserting a countermanding symbol:
Ignore the ignore command