Dead cat strategy

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Dead cat strategy, or Deadcatting, refers to the introduction of a dramatic, shocking, or sensationalist topic to divert discourse away from a more damaging topic.[1][2] The strategy, or at least the "dead cat" metaphor to describe it, is particularly associated with Australian political strategist Lynton Crosby.[3][4]

History and usage[edit]

Identification of examples may be considered subjective; some articles citing the technique are listed for illustration:

United Kingdom[edit]

  • A 2013 proposal to cap bankers' bonuses was compared to a dead cat by Boris Johnson:[5]

There is one thing that is absolutely certain about throwing a dead cat on the dining room table – and I don’t mean that people will be outraged, alarmed, disgusted. That is true, but irrelevant. The key point is that everyone will shout, ‘Jeez, mate, there’s a dead cat on the table!’ In other words, they will be talking about the dead cat – the thing you want them to talk about – and they will not be talking about the issue that has been causing you so much grief.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Clarke; Kellner; Stewart; Twyman; Whiteley (2015). Austerity and Political Choice in Britain. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 96. ISBN 978-1-137-52494-2.
  2. ^ Milbank, Dana (25 January 2017). "Don't get distracted by Trump's 'dead cats'". Opinion. Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2018-03-18. Distraction has long been Trump’s modus operandi. ... When news coverage of his transition was particularly tough, he created a new narrative by attacking the cast of the musical 'Hamilton.' It’s a constant use of the 'dead cat' strategy: throw a dead cat on the table, and prior conversation on any other topic ceases.
  3. ^ Maltby, Kate (22 November 2016). "'Hamilton' is Trump's dead cat". Opinion. CNN. There is a story, popular among British politicians and attributed to the Australian strategist Lynton Crosby, known as 'The Dead Cat.' A CEO is confronted with poor statistics at a board meeting, and to divert attention from this unpleasant news, he suddenly pulls out a dead cat and throws it onto the middle of the table.
  4. ^ a b Delaney, Sam. "How Lynton Crosby (and a dead cat) won the election: 'Labour were intellectually lazy'". The Guardian. Retrieved 14 March 2017.
  5. ^ Johnson, Boris (3 March 2013). "This cap on bankers' bonuses is like a dead cat – pure distraction". The Telegraph.