How to Make Fake News
Ryan Holiday, this week's guest on Masters in Business, understands how to manipulate the media. At age 22, he became public-relations manager for controversial clothing retailer American Apparel Inc. All it took to get the media's attention was a few salacious tidbits and a tease that a celebrity was involved. His experiences led him to write "Trust Me, I'm Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator," kicking off his career as a writer.
Holiday, who dropped out of college at age 19, has since written six books, most recently, “Conspiracy: Peter Thiel, Hulk Hogan, Gawker and the Anatomy of Intrigue.” The book covers the salacious invasion-of-privacy lawsuit by professional wrestler Hulk Hogan (real name Terry Bollea) against news website Gawker and its founder Nick Denton. The litigation was secretly bankrolled by Peter Thiel, a cofounder of PayPal and a 10 percent owner of Facebook before it went public. The lawsuit led to a $140 million verdict against Denton and Gawker, leading to the bankruptcy of both.
After the verdict, Holiday interviewed both Thiel and Denton, who shared key parts of the backstory of the dispute and subsequent trial. The result is a book that is at the top of the Amazon.com Inc.'s best-seller rankings.
Next week, we speak with James Donald, who serves as head of the emerging markets equity team at Lazard Asset Management LLC.
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