change the channel

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change the channel

  1. (US, Canada, idiomatic) To redirect someone's attention.
    • 2002 Oct. 20, Thomas M. Defrank, "Dems Can't Cash In On Economy," New York Daily News (retrieved 17 Oct 2013):
      Repeated attempts to "change the channel" to pocketbook issues that traditionally favor Democratic candidates have flopped.
    • 2002 Oct. 26, Ken Thomas, "McBride ad reveals praise from Bush," Sarasota Herald-Tribune, p. 6B (retrieved 17 Oct 2013):
      "Bill McBride doesn't want that to be the focus so he's trying to change the channel."
    • 2008 Sept. 10, "Harper's fresh commitment on Afghan pullout neutralizes war as election issue," The Guardian (Canada) (retrieved 17 Oct 2013):
      Conservative Leader Stephen Harper tried to change the channel on a campaign of distractions Wednesday as he deftly neutralized the Afghan mission as an election issue.
    • 2010 Jan. 22, "Dealbook: With Tougher Stance, Obama Takes On Banks," New York Times (retrieved 17 Oct 2013):
      [B]ig banks . . . have become the perfect foil for the White House as it tries to lead the Democratic Party out of its post-Massachusetts morass — and to change the channel from the seemingly unending debate over health insurance.
    • 2012 Jan. 9, Les Whittington, "Environmentalists hit back over pipeline hearings," Toronto Star (Canada) (retrieved 17 Oct 2013):
      “This government doesn’t want to have a public discussion on the industry’s disastrous safety record. . . . Instead, they try to change the channel by inventing scapegoats and bogeymen.”

Usage notes[edit]

  • Often used in a political context, especially in Canada, to describe a situation in which an attempt is made to divert public attention from scandalous or other unfavorable news.

See also[edit]