a red herring

red herring

Something irrelevant that diverts attention away from the main problem or issue. The candidate used the minor issue as a red herring to distract voters from the corruption accusations against him. The mystery writer is known for introducing red herrings to arouse the reader's suspicion of innocent characters.
See also: herring, red

a red herring

COMMON If something is a red herring, it takes people's attention away from the main subject, problem, or situation that they should be considering. All the fuss about high pay for public employees is a bit of a red herring. The really serious money is to be found in private companies. A sighting of the missing woman in London turned out to be a red herring. Note: A red herring is a herring that has been soaked in salt water for several days, and then dried by smoke. Red herrings were sometimes used when training dogs to follow a scent. They were also sometimes used to distract dogs from the scent they were following during a hunt.
See also: herring, red

a red herring

something, especially a clue, which is or is intended to be misleading or distracting.
This expression derives from the former practice of using the pungent scent of a dried smoked herring to teach hounds to follow a trail (smoked herrings were red in colour as a result of the curing process).
See also: herring, red

a red ˈherring

a fact, etc. which somebody introduces into a discussion because they want to take people’s attention away from the main point: Look, the situation in French agriculture is just a red herring. We’re here to discuss the situation in this country.This idiom comes from the custom of using the scent of a smoked, dried herring (which was red) to train dogs to hunt.
See also: herring, red