Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney on Wednesday told reporters and bloggers that he could "imagine a time" when they would have to reveal confidential sources.
"Just the last few years since my last campaign, the changes in your industry have been quite striking," the candidate explained to the American Society of News Editors (ASNE). "Back then, I would look on Drudge or Fox or CNN online to see how the stories were developing and only hours after a speech, it was being dissected on the Internet."
"Now of course, we go to Twitter. It's instantaneous. In 2008, the coverage was all about what I might have said in a speech. Today, it's about what brand of jeans I'm wearing or what I had for lunch."
Romney added: "Some people thus welcome the tumult and turmoil in your industry, heralding the new voices and the unfiltered or supposedly unbiased sources. Frankly in some of the new media, I find myself missing the presence of editors to exercise quality control. ... I miss the days of two or more sources for a story -- when at least one source was actually named."
During a question and answer period following the speech, ASNE president Ken Paulson asked Romney if there was "a role for confidential sources in American public life, in the press and in our view as a furtherance of democracy?"
"Do I see a role for confidential sources? Yes," the former Massachusetts governor replied. "Could I ever imagine a time when a source would need to be revealed? Yeah I can imagine that too."
"So I know that sounds like a conflict and that's why I'm going to have to give this a lot more thought and a lot more back and forth to understand which side of that I would finally come down on. But I'd want to hear from people in the industry, is there ever a time you would think a confidential source would be revealed or should be revealed, and if the answer is no I'd like to understand why that is the case and what the alternative is."