I am no admirer of Gary Hart, but what he said in Outlook Dec. 13 makes sense to me. Coverage of where candidates stand on issues diminishes with each election. Instead, we are kept abreast of which candidate is leading the pack in what state, or of the latest mudslinging by one candidate against another. We are told whether a candidate is good television material and what sort of impact this will have. We are treated to lots of photos and footage of the candidate surrounded by supportive or angry (as the case may be) farmers, union leaders, Jews, blacks, feminists, etc. Not to mention all those pictures of the candidate at the Rotary barbecue, at the high school graduation, at the League of Women Voters' luncheon and, of course, with his happy, intact family.

The average citizen is not informed anymore as to what candidates say when they make speeches. Presumably, they discuss their stands on issues as well as their past record. But I have only rumor to go by in this regard, for it is rare to see a candidate's views in print.

Instead of wringing their hands over the lack of strong, charismatic candidates, I suggest that the media take a hard look at how they fail to give candidates the sort of coverage they need to develop a strong constituency.

I am tired of being "entertained" by the TV news. I am fed up with fruitlessly searching for substantive, thorough reporting in newspapers. I shudder to think of the future of democracy in a country where the major news organizations treat adults as if they had the attention span of toddlers.

This country deserves better than a three-ring circus when it comes to electing the president of the wealthiest, most influential and most powerful country in the world. It deserves an informed national debate on issues. I challenge the press and television to give us just that. PATRICIA A. KELLY Washington