wag the dog


Also found in: Wikipedia.

wag the dog

1. verb In politics, to orchestrate some high-profile event or action in order to distract from something negative or damaging, usually a scandal of some kind. Derived from the phrase "the tail wagging the dog" and popularized by the 1997 satirical film Wag the Dog. A: "You don't find it suspicious that the president ordered air strikes the Middle East the day after all those secret recordings leaked?" B: "What are you suggesting? That's he's wagging the dog?"
2. adjective Describing such a situation. He was unfaithful to his wife, he got caught, and now he needs to face the music. The electorate can see through all his obvious wag the dog attempts at distraction.
See also: dog, wag
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.