Trust Me I’m Lying – Confessions of a Media Manipulator

I heard about Ryan Holiday years ago as a marketer for American Apparel and as they guy who pulled off some pretty incredible publicity promotions through subtly controlling and feeding the news machine ever hungry for stories and ever willing to be “duped” for the sake of a clicks and page views.

You’ve seen it all before. A malicious online rumor costs a company millions. A political sideshow derails the national news cycle and destroys a candidate. Some product or celebrity zooms from total obscurity to viral sensation. What you don’t know is that someone is responsible for all this. A media manipulator.

ryan-holiday-trust-me-im-lyingToday’s news is no longer filtered, edited, vetted, and approved by editorial staff, gatekeepers, etc.  Today its all online.  Blogs now compete for clicks, page views, and attentions.  Deadlines and compensation structures now push writers to look for “news” that gets attention – the sensational kind… and get it out quickly before everyone else gets it to and it dies and becomes worthless.  News stories that used to require credible sources (even if kept anonymous) now bypass any and all editorial scrutiny even in the big media outlets because now they can repeat even the most outlandish claims and stories simply because someone else (usually a small, unknown blogger) said it first.   Now rumor and gossip become “news” and though by definition are unverified, writers are free to promote their stories as “fact” simply because they can cite someone else as the original source.

The author shows how media manipulators plant stories in the smaller blogs, then “trade it up the chain” by then notifying more prominent blogs about the story who jump on the story, then on and on up the chain of more and more credible blogs and news websites until the story becomes a national sensation – regardless of its factualness or authenticity.

In a world where blogs control and distort the news, media manipulators control blogs—as much as any one person can.


  • Blogs like Gawker, BuzzFeed, and The Huffington Post drive the media agenda.
  • Bloggers are slaves to money, technology, and deadlines.
  • Manipulators wield these levers to shape everything you read, see, and hear— online and off.

Ryan Holiday explains how this all works, why it works and what the ramifications are for the people and companies targeted by manipulation as well as the effect it has on society.

I love this book.  It pulls the curtains back and shows how the system works.  Unfortunately, if you’re already skeptical of most of what you read on the internet – now you’ll be skeptical of all the rest.

Dane Shakespear

Dane Shakespear helps Residential Treatment Centers, Boarding Schools, and Troubled Teen Programs attract more qualified leads, convert them into paying clients and deliver a better product by doing more of what works and less of chasing shiny objects. Dane works with owners and executives who are tired of relegating the lifeblood of their business – their marketing and sales flow to 3rd party geeks and charlatans.