A media manipulator tells all

Aug 15, 2012

“Trust Me, I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator” Credit: By Ryan Holiday

How much of what you read online is true? We all know that most blogs and websites aren’t the most reliable news sources. Students are endlessly urged to be discriminating when doing research online. Everyone is prepared to be skeptical of Wikipedia, but what happens when even the most reputable news sources can’t be trusted?

In his book “Trust Me, I’m Lying,” marketing expert Ryan Holiday exposes the seedy underbelly of media manipulation, where even The New York Times can be duped, and by himself no less. Holiday is the head of marketing for American Apparel and a media strategist for authors like Tucker Max. He is a self proclaimed “media manipulator” who has controlled the media to suit his purposes with skill and ease. Just recently, he went on a spree of manipulation, lying to The New York Times, CBS, ABC about vinyl record collecting, embarrassing office antics, and troubles as an insomniac, respectively.

In the book, Holiday reveals that the very framework of our current news system is flawed. As subscriptions dwindle, major news sources are forced into the online sphere. There, the rise of blogs has led to a distortion of truth. Blogs are all about page views, and the need for more readers has taken the place of a responsibility to accuracy and truth. Major news outlets will cite and link to blogs often without any fact checking measures.

His book has ignited controversy in major news sources, but also sparked praise from critics. Though some question Holiday’s motives in writing the book (he is a manipulator after all), many still believe it’s an important and incisive look at the state of the media in America.

How can you know what to trust online? Has the shift of media outlets from print to online changed the quality of news for good? Is fact checking still possible in a world full of disreputable blogs and media manipulators?


Ryan Holiday, author of “Trust Me, I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator” (Portfolio/Penguin), media strategist and marketing director for American Apparel

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