What should the role of the press be? To report facts (2 + 2 = 4) and nothing more? To provide investigative analysis and context? To dig deep and let the chips fall where they may? Does the local press sidestep stories unfavorable to advertisers and favorite politicians? Does it endlessly milk issues of passionate importance solely to talk show devotees and ideological hyperventilators?
Name a story the press hasn't covered adequately. George Bush's cocaine use and his avoidance of National Guard service after his old man got him signed up. Also, the truth about long-range patrol missions in Vietnam a la Senator Kerrey. I wasn't in Nam, but I'm a vet, and I've heard un-be-leev-able stories from Vietnam vets about killing civilians during combat patrols.
What's your all-time favorite expos? Watergate. It laid out in black-and-white detail what we suspected politicians have always been up to. For the first time, they really tracked down the money and the lies. It was the greatest show ever. Lewinskigate was a pale stepsister in comparison.
Do you suspect something going on that the press has tiptoed around? The Christian Coalition crusade to block women's right to choose by setting up small test cases in every state.
What should the role of the press be? I turn on CNN for sound-byte reportage. The printed word should involve in-depth, investigative analysis.
Name a story you think the press should be covering a lot better. Things like the battle over Red Rock Canyon. The mayor is convinced that every small town should aspire to be a big town. That's not what I think. I hate that.
Have you ever suppressed a story? In a way, yeah. I'm Hispanic, but I don't much look it. My family counseled me to play that part of me down in the interest of social advancement and getting better jobs.
Do you suspect something going on that the press has totally missed? The bill that would let the post office charge a nickel for every e-mail. The post office claims it's losing business to e-mail and may have to downsize.
Name a story the press is dropping the ball on. Big Tobacco has lied, advertised to children, promoted addiction and killed people. Bush, though, is trying to kill the federal tobacco lawsuit by radically underfunding the Justice Department. Also, the charter school movement.
Does local press coverage tend to be relevant to the daily life of most people? I sense a surface level to news coverage, an unwillingness to go out on a limb. The really tough issues aren't tackled. You guys [the Independent] do the best job in town.
What should the role of the press be? It should be a line of communication and a channel of truth to the public. There's a part of me that says that it should be a champion of the people.