Clin­ton, Trump take op­po­site ap­proaches to deal with press

Guarded in­ter­views vs. di­rect an­swers

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY BEN WOLF­GANG

Hil­lary Clin­ton is 0-for-2016, hav­ing failed to hold any full press con­fer­ences this year — fu­el­ing the per­cep­tion that she is the most guarded ma­jor can­di­date in re­cent po­lit­i­cal his­tory, in stark con­trast with pre­sump­tive Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee Don­ald Trump.

Mr. Trump has held at least four full, for­mal press con­fer­ences this year and has fielded ques­tions at length from the flock of re­porters cov­er­ing his cam­paign on nu­mer­ous oc­ca­sions.

Mrs. Clin­ton took ques­tions from the press trav­el­ing with her cam­paign once, in Min­nesota in March, but hasn’t held an or­ga­nized press con­fer­ence in six months.

“She tries to con­trol me­dia by ra­tioning ac­cess. He tries to con­trol me­dia by set­ting its agenda with provoca­tive posts and tweets that are then the fo­cus of freely given in­ter­views,” said Kath­leen Hall Jamieson, di­rec­tor of the An­nen­berg Pub­lic Pol­icy Cen­ter at the Uni­ver­sity of Penn­syl­va­nia who spe­cial­izes in po­lit­i­cal com­mu­ni­ca­tion.

Mrs. Clin­ton ac­knowl­edged that she hasn’t held a press con­fer­ence in nearly six months but promised that she would con­duct one soon. She boasted that she has sat down for nearly 300 ar­ranged in­ter­views this year.

Mr. Trump, who has re­ferred to the press as “scum” and “sleaze,” has shown a sur­pris­ing will­ing­ness to an­swer ques­tions in a press con­fer­ence set­ting. He even holds press con­fer­ences al­most solely to be­rate the re­porters who cover him.

His ques­tion-and-an­swer ses­sion fo­cused on me­dia re­ports ques­tion­ing whether he had do­nated as much money to vet­er­ans or­ga­ni­za­tions as he claimed.

Asked by re­porters whether they could ex­pect sim­i­lar tongue-lash­ings if Mr. Trump wins the pres­i­dency in Novem­ber, the bil­lion­aire busi­ness­man was quick to an­swer.

“Yes, it is go­ing to be like this,” he said. “And then we have to read prob­a­bly li­belous sto­ries, or cer­tainly close, in the news­pa­pers and the peo­ple know the sto­ries are false, I’m go­ing to con­tinue to at­tack the press. Look, I find the press to be ex­tremely dis­hon­est. I find the po­lit­i­cal press to be un­be­liev­ably dis­hon­est. I will say that.”

Mrs. Clin­ton is at the op­po­site end of the spec­trum, and an­a­lysts say vot­ers can learn a lot about both can­di­dates from their han­dling of the me­dia.

“She en­gages in self-mon­i­tor­ing; he does not. Both play into a broader nar­ra­tive. She is smart and knowl­edge­able but is an es­tab­lish­ment fig­ure, parses words, is hid­ing some­thing, is in­au­then­tic, un­trust­wor­thy,” Ms. Hall Jamieson said. “He says what­ever comes to mind, doesn’t do his home­work, is of­ten in­con­sis­tent, is fac­tu­ally in­ac­cu­rate, but what you see is what you get — au­then­tic and some­one who will shake up the pol­i­tics of the sta­tus quo.”

Mrs. Clin­ton held a pseudo press con­fer­ence in Au­gust to discuss the con­tro­versy around her pri­vate email server, but the event went poorly.

The for­mer sec­re­tary of state made a crack about wip­ing her email server clean “with a cloth or some­thing,” boost­ing the no­tion that she wasn’t tak­ing the scan­dal se­ri­ously.

She has apol­o­gized re­peat­edly for us­ing her own email ac­count, though she in­sists she broke no laws and did not en­dan­ger na­tional se­cu­rity.

She held a for­mal press con­fer­ence in New Hamp­shire in Septem­ber and an­swered ques­tions from re­porters in Iowa in De­cem­ber. The Iowa event gen­er­ally is con­sid­ered to be her last press con­fer­ence, though that, too, can be called into ques­tion be­cause it was more of an unan­nounced ques­tion-an­dan­swer ses­sion with a hand­ful of re­porters rather than a full press con­fer­ence.

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