When do secrets expire?
By Amy Willis
This PG-13 episode has scandal, celebrities, and sex tapes. But according to EconTalk host Russ Roberts, Ryan Holiday’s book, Conspiracy, is “an extended meditation on power, strategy, patience, [and] revenge…” Holiday tells the story of the demise of the celebrity expose website Gawker after a trial brought by pro wrestler Hulk Hogan, and secretly funded by PayPal founder Peter Thiel. Was it a shoot or a kayfabe? Do all secrets have expiration dates, as Roberts suggests? It’s hard to keep track of this complex plot…
What lessons did you draw from this week’s conversation? (And did you go out and get the book? Did you read it in a day, like Russ?) Use our prompts to start your own conversation offline.
1. In talking of Gawker’s model, Holiday says, “…if you pay people by the page view, you unlock a very powerful mechanism.” What does he mean by this, and what does it illustrate about news in the digital age? Is this change an unadulterated good or bad? Why?
2. Who were the “impartial spectators” Roberts mentions in this case, and what role did they play? How did the reaction of the public to the Gawker case change as the story unfolded, and how did it affect the plot?
3. Why does the word “conspiracy” have such a negative connotation? Do we have too few conspiracies today, as Holiday suggests? Explain.
4. Why is “revenge a dish best served cold,” according to Holiday? To what extent do you agree with his interpretation? How much of the Gawker case do you think was motivated by revenge? What other motivations might have been in play?
5. Is the world a better place today without Gawker? Explain.