A couple of weeks ago, Nate Silver wrote that "[Donald] Trump has been able to disrupt the news pretty much any time he wants, whether by being newsworthy, offensive, salacious or entertaining. The media has almost always played along."

Silver and his team at FiveThirtyEight have ably tracked how Trump has done it, concluding that he's "hacked the system" with his unorthodox and brute campaign style. In doing so, Trump has challenged the journalism industry to take a few moments in remembrance of its departed colleague, News Judgment. In memoriam, old friend.

"[W]ith his ability to make news any time he wants with a tweet, news conference or conveniently placed leak, Trump has challenged news organizations' editorial prerogative," Silver wrote. "Should the press cover a candidate differently when he makes trolling the media an explicit part of his strategy, on the theory that some coverage is almost always better than none?"

Whether or not the press should, Trump knows that it won't.

In an interview with Kirsten Powers published Tuesday, the candidate whose free media coverage is worth $2 billion implied that his act is a necessary component of his campaign.

I told Trump about a Hillary Clinton-supporting family member who, after watching a Trump speech, noted to me that he'd be very hard to beat. Everything Trump says — opposition to the Iraq War, criticism of trade and criticism of Washington — is right, she told me. So, why not just stick to substance and stop with the other stuff? "Maybe the other stuff is part of it," Trump said. "If I didn't do it, then you might not be talking to me about a race where we are leading substantially."

In the context of the story, the "other stuff" refers to Trump's spats with fellow candidates to whom he has given nicknames as if he were a boxer at a pre-fight press conference. "Little" Marco Rubio and "Lyin'" Ted Cruz have been on the receiving end of ruthless haymakers from "Classy" Donald Trump (who, incidentally, has been endorsed by "Iron" Mike Tyson).

But there's other stuff to the "other stuff". There's no need to relive it all, but a sampling includes his comments about John McCain's captivity, his misleadingly reported but upsetting comments about the nature of Mexican immigrants, and his allusion to Megyn Kelly's bodily functions. That was just last summer.

Taken together, it's this message operation -- relentless, personal, seemingly undisciplined -- that has helped keep the media's focus of the Republican race on him, and shut out the others vying for attention. As FiveThirtyEight pointed out a couple of weeks ago, Trump has led the news on days when the top story was about the GOP campaign 68 percent of the time.

It's doubtless that a substantial portion of this coverage hasn't exactly flattered the New York businessman. But that's in the eye of the beholder this election. Trump said he could put a bullet in someone and not lose votes. While we give thanks this idea hasn't been tested in the field, Trump's rhetorical volleys have not cost him his core support.

The calculations that excuse his behavior are short-sighted, however, and may have exponentially decreased his odds to become president. That's a question for another time. For now, he just admitted to playing the media for fools. The media has profited from it. And so has he.