EDITORIAL | Coverage of Trump visit highlights media problems

The big story— or huge, rather — from last week, the one that dominated local airwaves before, during, and after, was the visit of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump to Western Washington.

It was impossible to escape the wall-to-wall coverage from just about every outlet, and that’s how it should be. When one of the two contenders to be the next “leader of the free world” (Sorry Gary and Jill) comes to town, it’s time to take notice.

And it’s a chance to hear from the candidates themselves, not their surrogates or supporters, as they make their case as to why they are best suited to lead the nation. At that point, we can step back and evaluate the substance of those claims, and what they would mean if implemented here at home.

That’s not really how it worked though.

What has seemingly lacked — and this is not just something we’ve seen locally — in the reporting on this year’s presidential race is an actual evaluation what the potential repercussions would be of what either candidate is proposing in their stump speech.

Instead, it’s all about the spectacle, and favorability numbers, and emails, and insults and polls. So many polls.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed at story after story about the horserace, rather than the issues.

But how much have you heard throughout this race about what could actually happen after the election, aside from the looming specter of mass deportations?

Trump continually talks about illegal immigration, though he’s increasingly hard to pinpoint with a view that seems to change with the weather.

How many people would he attempt to deport from the Puget Sound region? In turn, what effect would that have on local businesses? There would undoubtedly be a chain reaction set off by mass deportations, and the time to talk about that is in the middle of the race, not after the election.

And for a part of the world so dependent on trade, what would the local fallout be from withdrawing from or renegotiating NAFTA, as Trump says he would if elected.

These are the topics of discussion that have been conspicuously absent.

Instead we see photos of the alarmingly sexist or racist signs brought into his rallies, or hear about whatever insult he hurled at the target of the day. And people will click on that, it’s just the nature of our media consumption.

It just can’t be the end all be all.

Trump’s visit — likely the only time either candidate will hold a public event in the area before Election Day — feels like opportunity missed to take a hard look at what would happen in the Seattle area under his presidency.

Instead, we mostly just acknowledged that he was here, and a crowd was there to see him say the same bombastic talking points we’ve witnessed on the national stage.

We can do better.