BY LARRY BURRISS
The candidates seem to be set and they are starting to talk about potential vice presidents. For the last several months we heard about medical insurance, abortion and immigration. But now it's time to start asking some serious questions about news coverage and the reporters who provide that coverage
Privacy and national security are two of these major issues. What are the candidates' thoughts about how much surveillance power we will allow intelligence services before privacy starts to be compromised? Or, the other way, how much privacy will we allow before national security becomes compromised?
A related issue involves accountability. How much would the candidates tell us about the effectiveness of these surveillance programs? What will they tell us about successes and failures?
Another controversial topic involves proposed federal legislation regarding shield laws. How much latitude do the candidates think reporters should be given to protect their sources from forced disclosure?
But not all issues involve legislation or legal issues. And these are perhaps the most important of all: what do the candidates see as the relationship between the administration and the press? Not just with the president personally, but with the entire administration?
Do the candidates see the media as simply an extension of their own programs, to be manipulated and used as much as possible? Are the media to be treated as enemies, and given as little access to administration as possible?
Or, in the best case, do they see the media as conduits for keeping the public informed so the public can make informed decisions about issues affecting their lives?
It's important to remember the only contacts most Americans have with the administration are reporters covering the White House. And because those relationships are critical to both the public and elected officials, it's time to start asking these kinds of questions.