Trust Me, I'm Lying

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Trust Me, I'm Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator
First edition (US)
AuthorRyan Holiday
Cover artistErin Tyler
CountryUnited States
SubjectMarketing, Journalism, The Internet
PublisherPortfolio (US)
Profile Books (UK)
Publication date
July 19, 2012
Pages288 pages
LC ClassHF534.H7416

Trust Me, I'm Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator is a book by Ryan Holiday. The book chronicles Holiday's time working as a media strategist for clients including authors Tucker Max and Robert Greene as well as American Apparel founder Dov Charney.

Background and description[edit]

Trust Me, I'm Lying was billed as an exposé of the online journalism system that rose to prominence in the decade before the book's 2012 publication.

Holiday is the former Director of Marketing for American Apparel, where he created controversial campaigns that garnered widespread publicity.[1][2][3][4] Holiday has also done publicity work for Tucker Max, including marketing for the movie version of I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell and a media stunt about Max's failed attempt to donate $500,000 to Planned Parenthood.[5][6][7]

The book is split into two parts: the first explains why blogs matter, how they drive the news, and how they can be manipulated, while the second shows what happens when this is done, how it backfires, and the consequences of the current media system.[8]

As an example of his argument that blogs shape the news, Holiday outlines how the political blog Politico dedicated significant coverage to the campaign of Tim Pawlenty two years before the 2012 elections in order to generate pageviews for advertisers.[9] Although Pawlenty did not yet have an official campaign, this kickstarted the media cycle which painted Pawlenty as a serious presidential candidate. As an example of the pageview-intensive blogosphere, Holiday uses the example of Jezebel writer Irin Carmon's attack on Jon Stewart and The Daily Show with misleading claims of "The Daily Show's Woman Problem."[10] The book is also the source of a marketing and media concept now referred to as "trading up the chain", in which news is broken on small blogs and passed to successively larger and more influential media outlets.


In 2011, it was reported that Holiday received a $500,000 advance for a tell-all exposé about these clients and the modern media system from Portfolio, a subsidiary of Penguin Books.[11][12][13] However, some outlets later accused the advance of being a strategic marketing stunt engineered by Holiday.[14][15]

Trust Me, I'm Lying debuted on the Wall Street Journal bestseller list.[16] Publishers Weekly stated that "Media students and bloggers would do well to heed Holiday's informative, timely, and provocative advice."[17] Kirkus Reviews called Trust Me, I'm Lying "[a] sharp and disturbing look into the world of online reality."[18]

In anticipation of the book's release, Holiday infiltrated the public relations service Help a Reporter Out and posed as an "expert" on various issues to show that journalists will print statements without fact checking.[19][better source needed] Holiday made decoy claims to prove the point; some of those were subsequently quoted in articles about subjects ranging from boating upkeep to insomnia to vinyl records in outlets such as The New York Times, MSNBC, and ABC, and the story was profiled in Forbes and Yahoo! News.[20]

In 2013, The Edmonton Journal named Trust Me, I'm Lying one of their “favourite books of the year.”[21]


  1. ^ Travis, Chase. Trust Me, I’m Lying: How To Make & Promote Content That Turns Heads – Hacking the System with Media Genius Ryan Holiday on chasejarvis Live . June 27, 2012.
  2. ^ Chaudhuri, Saabira. Nipples, Nudity and a Small Striptease: American Apparel's New Ad Campaign. Fast Company. November 21, 2008.
  3. ^ Morrissey, Brian. American Apparel Grabs YouTube's Long Tail. Ad Week. December 18, 2009.
  4. ^ Vega, Tanzina From Zappos, an Unadorned Approach. The New York Times. July 10, 2011.
  5. ^ Marcus, Stephanie; Bassett, Laura. Planned Parenthood Turns Down $500,000 From Tucker Max. The Huffington Post. April 3, 2012.
  6. ^ Maier, Jenny. Tucker Max Proves You Can Pay Celebrities To Tweet Whatever You Want. February 9, 2012.
  7. ^ Yarrow, Allison. Is Planned Parenthood Reject Tucker Max Pro-Women? The Daily Beast. April 3, 2012.
  8. ^ Losowsky, Andrew. Ryan Holiday, Author Of 'Trust Me, I'm Lying', Wants To Break The Media. The Huffington Post. June 29, 2012.
  9. ^ Holiday, Ryan (2012). Trust Me, I'm Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator. Portfolio. p. 288. ISBN 978-1-59184-553-9.
  10. ^ Frauenfelder, Mark. Gweek 061: Trust Me, I'm Lying. July 19, 2012.
  11. ^ "24 year old Marketing Director Lands Major Book Deal". Media Bistro. Nov 17, 2011. Retrieved 2012-02-06.
  12. ^ "Dov Charney's Marketing Director Lands 500K Book Deal". Nov 17, 2011. Archived from the original on 2017-11-06. Retrieved 2012-02-06.
  13. ^ Boog, Jason. Ryan Holiday Did Not Dupe GalleyCat. Mediabistro.November 18, 2011.
  14. ^ Witt, Emily. The Tell-All of Dov Charney and Tucker Max? All Part of Ryan Holiday’s Media Strategy. The New York Observer. November 18, 2011.
  15. ^ Boog, Jason. Ryan Holiday Did Not Dupe GalleyCat. Galleycat. November 18, 2011.
  16. ^ Best-Selling Books, Week Ended July 22 . Wall Street Journal. July 22, 2012.
  17. ^ Nonfiction review of Trust Me, I'm Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator. Publishers Weekly. July 16, 2012.
  18. ^ Trust Me, I'm Lying. Kirkus Reviews. June 15, 2012.
  19. ^ Thier, David. Tucker Max's Rejected Twitter Campaign and Stab at Celebrity Endorsement. Forbes. February 7, 2012.
  20. ^ Stableford, Dylan. ‘Media manipulator’ admits he lied as a source for the Times, ABC, CBS. July 19, 2012.
  21. ^ "Edmonton Journal staff pick favourite books of the year". Edmonton Journal. Archived from the original on 2014-03-11.

External links[edit]