How to Generate Fake News That Gets Attention

(Bloomberg View) -- 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 Inc.'s best-seller rankings.

His favorite books are cited here; our conversation transcript is available here.

You can stream/download the full conversation, including the podcast extras on iTunesBloomberg and Overcast. Our earlier podcasts can all be found on iTunesOvercast and Bloomberg.

Next week, we speak with James Donald, who serves as head of the emerging markets equity team at Lazard Asset Management LLC.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.

Barry Ritholtz is a Bloomberg View columnist. He founded Ritholtz Wealth Management and was chief executive and director of equity research at FusionIQ, a quantitative research firm. He blogs at the Big Picture and is the author of “Bailout Nation: How Greed and Easy Money Corrupted Wall Street and Shook the World Economy.”

To contact the author of this story: Barry Ritholtz at

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