Call me a cynic, but somehow I smell a whitewash in the vein of the Warren Commission report and the 9/11 Commission report, and this time the Feds want to charge some serious dollars for hoodwinking the citizenry. From the Washington Post:
The government commission tasked with writing a public report to expose the causes of the financial crisis is keeping the structure of its own publishing deal private.
On Aug. 3, the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, a presidential body, announced that it had chosen Little, Brown and Co. to publish its final report about the meltdown — an anticipated and authoritative account pieced together by well-known journalist Matt Cooper. It did not mention, however, that the deal had unusual terms for the publication of a public document, including an agreement by Little, Brown to pay an advance to the government and the stipulation that a portion of the proceeds from sales be paid into U.S. Treasury coffers. The commission’s chairman, Phil Angelides, said the details of the deal will be divulged once the contract with Little, Brown is finalized.
“Our primary goal was to make sure that it was a great report and accessible to people not just in distribution but in content and form,” said Angelides, who, with vice chairman and former congressman Bill Thomas, interviewed several publishers before selecting Little, Brown. “And to the extent that we thought we could do well by the taxpayers, that would be a good thing.”
“FCIC is all about transparency,” said Will Lippincott of the literary agency Lippincott Massie McQuilkin, who is one of the agents the government hired to sell the book. “But until the contract is complete, it’s not a done deal.”
Government commissions hooking up with commercial publishers to boost distribution is nothing new. The Warren Commission Report, the Starr Report and the 9/11 Commission Report all did exactly that. But this time the process is raising questions about whether a public report about the exploitation of the commodities market isn’t itself being overly commodified. The commission retained literary agents, who will likely receive a percentage of the deal for their efforts, and then auctioned off the manuscript to publishers.
“The government usually does not ask for royalties on public domain documents,” said Drake McFeely, president of W.W. Norton, which published the 9/11 Commission Report…
[continues at the Washington Post]