Ryan Holiday, Trust Me, I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator
A media con man proves there's a sucker blogging every minute
As epiphanies go, Ryan Holiday’s came pretty late. By the time the self-styled media manipulator decided to come clean, he’d already spent years bullshitting his way onto television as an “expert” guest, creating puppet web identities to spread rumors, stirring up outrage to incite false flag protests, flat out lying to journalists, preying on the weaknesses of sweatshop bloggers and brand-handling infamous douchebags like Tucker Max and Dov Charney. Actually, I don’t even know if those guys are really douchebags anymore, or if that’s just something cooked up by Holiday’s reverse-psych-pop subterfuge. That’s the only thing old-school about the man: He’s still into the ol’ any-press-is-good-press thing.
Yeah, it’s easy to hate Ryan Holiday. But it’s hard not to respect the guy, too. He’s not quite in the same league as phone-freaking pioneer Kevin Mitnick when it comes to balls, but he’s got the same penchant for delicate and amoral exploitation. Put another way, Holiday is frustratingly, frighteningly good at what he does. News outlets of all kinds have apparently fallen victim to his charms and spells.
As a journalist, I can honestly say this is one of the most spellbinding and infuriating books I’ve come across. Evil baby geniuses like Holiday – it’s a sure bet there are more out there; I just hope they’re less prolific – know how to work the system and bait the gullible. If I take any solace from the “confessions” in Holiday’s playbook, it’s that maybe the media will learn from them.
Of course, the whole thing could be a clever fake. I doubt it, but, you know, it was written by a guy who lies for a living.