Besides the fact that they are both running for president in 2016, what do Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have in common? They both play the media like a fiddle. They use the mainstream media in the same way: They say something outrageous, whether it’s an outright lie or a provocative statement, then wait for the media to come after them.


Donald Trump gestures and declares “You’re fired!” at a campaign rally last month in Manchester, N.H. (Dominick Reuter/Reuters)

In Trump’s case, he throws down the gauntlet and goads the media into pursuing him relentlessly. Trump relishes the chase, and it draws needed attention to his campaign. He knows perfectly well how to garner as much attention as possible with his incendiary comments.

Clinton throws down the gauntlet and intimidates the media into silence. She regularly stiff-arms the press but is available just enough to allow her apologists and her enablers to say she is not hiding from the media. She can say whatever she wants, true or not, and the media mostly go along with it or feign disappointment that there is not more to say.

The media like to pretend they are forced to cover Trump; they act as though he has thrust himself upon them and they wish they didn’t have to talk about him. The media pretend they can’t cover Clinton because she won’t let them; they ask the obvious questions but rarely show any zeal for follow-up.


Hillary Clinton speaks at an event in Las Vegas in May. (John Locher/Asoociated Press)

So what are we left with? The Trump coverage is forced and phony, yet it’s exactly what he wants. Any substantive coverage of Clinton is practically nonexistent, which is exactly what she wants. The whole thing is a game, and we shouldn’t pretend otherwise. Clinton and Trump are both manipulating the media, but the media are proving all too willing to be manipulated. Everyone seems perfectly willing to play his or her role and be compliant. As I have said before, the coverage of Campaign 2016 thus far has been a product of too much media chasing too little story.