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Trust Me I’m Lying

When the writer Tucker Max had a book launch he hired a marketing company to create some “buzz” around the launch to generate sales.

liarOver the course of a few weeks, Tucker’s marketing company plastered his face on billboards all over Los Angeles and in one one night made certain all of those same billboards were defaced!  The marketing company purposely wrote terrible things about Tucker on some of the posters and totally destroyed others.

Ryan Holliday, head of the marketing company, then called all of the local news stations and gave them a crafted and nicely wrapped story to run the next day: “Tucker Max Posters Defaced All Over Los Angeles.” As anticipated, the news stations and press ran with the story because it gave them ratings and sales.

Tucker Max writes a form of literature called Fratire, where Tucker describes his drunken and hedonistic lifestyle. Needless to say, he has many people who don’t like him as a person. Given the narrative that the media already believed about Tucker, Holliday gave them a credible and newsworthy story about how Tucker was so hated that his enemies would go to the trouble of defacing and destroying his promotional posters and billboards.

Holliday is a master media manipulator. He shares all his techniques in his illuminating book, “Trust Me, I’m Lying, Confessions of a Media Manipulator.” He later worked for various blogs and eventually became the director of marketing for American Apparel.

The point of his book is really about questioning the truth presented by the media. I wrote about this in a previous post about the things we think we know. The best analogy I can give is from Plato’s allegory of the cave. In that story Plato describes a place where prisoners live chained in a cave while puppeteers cast shadows on the cave walls. Those shadows constitute “reality” for the prisoners. When one of the prisoners is able to escape, he comes to understand that the reality was just a projection. He realizes that because he and the others were trapped, the only reality they understood was what the puppeteers showed them.

How is that any different from what is shown to us on television today? Both political parties manipulate the press in ways that promote their particular agenda. One of the strategies Holliday discloses that media manipulators commonly use is planting stories in the newspapers and having them reported as fact. In one example, former Vice President Dick Cheney was known to be an anonymous source for major papers. He would feed reporters stories they were quick to publish then Cheney would show up the following day and cite those same newspapers as the basis for what he was promoting. What a ruse! Neither the interviewer nor the viewer knew that the source of the story was Cheney himself as he used the credibility of the newspapers to further his cause.

However, many times it’s the media themselves who are knowingly doing the manipulating. Take the recent case of George Stephanopoulos,  lead anchor for ABC news. What most people don’t know is that he was the Chief Communications Director for former President Bill Clinton and before that he had worked for liberal Democrat Senator Richard Gephardt. Upon leaving the Clinton White House, Stephanopoulos signed with ABC news and has been a reporter ever since…supposedly reporting a major network’s news with impartiality. You would think that having been the former Communications Director for a former United States President one would be , prima facie, disqualified from working as a fair and balanced journalist…especially one that reports primarily on political issues.

Apparently not.

Stephanopoulos has always been a Clinton apologist. The latest revelation is that he recently made $75,000 in donations to the Clinton Foundation all the while publicly defending and thereby promoting it. His support has been for a money making machine for the Clinton’s whereby most of the donations have come from overseas investors buying access to the highest reaches of our government.

(Note: The Founders knew that foreign donors would have, at best, little regard for US interests and at the least interests that were hostile thereto. Therefore they made political donations by foreign donors illegal!).

What most people fail to realize is that the media is a business like any other. It needs advertisement dollars to stay afloat. When James Altucher, a noted entrepreneur, went to C.N.B.C for an interview the producer told him he was just “the filler” for the “real” business which is commercial advertising.

Once you understated this concept of media as business, much of what you see makes sense.The Clinton donations makes sense as well.  George Stephanopoulos made a donation to the Clinton Foundation for access. He was making a bet that if Hillary Clinton became President he would be able to call in a favor and get her to appear on his show or get first crack at scooping White House news.

Its no different that what NBC did by hiring Chelsea Clinton and paying her $600,000 dollars for a journalism job, a job for which she had no qualification for. NBC was paying for access to her mother, the Secretary of State. The network was “investing” in their future access to securing interviews with the Secretary for which NBC would recoup their “investment” in advertising revenues.

The media is commonly known as the Fourth Estate, the institution that is to be the watchdog of government.  Yet the sad but true reality is this institution has been sold and, for the most part, provides the nation with paid propaganda. As too many Americans continue to form opinions and vote based upon what they hear and see on “the news” we remain a nation of sheep being led..if not to slaughter…then surely to slavery.

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