spin journalism
n. News stories or facts presented in a biased or slanted way in an attempt to influence public opinion.
Sir Malcolm Rifkind, the Scottish Tories' general election campaign leader, last night launched a scathing attack on the culture of so-called "spin journalism", as the Conservatives continue to suffer a wave of bad press over claims of internal splits and plots.
—Michael Settle, “Rifkind fires broadside at spin 'flunkies',” The Herald, April 28, 2001
1998 (earliest)
You also stated that people left the Democratic Party when President Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act. This is yet another example of 'spin' journalism practiced by your Democratic newspaper, implying racially bigoted bias in voters who do not agree with Democratic left-wing options.
—Ed & Carol Lichtenberger, “The paper's Democratic bias is showing again” (letter), News & Record, November 14, 1998
In 1895, Joseph Pulitzer's New York World newspaper began running a cartoon strip called "The Yellow Kid," which featured a child in a yellow nightshirt. Whether it was the splash of color (unusual for that time) or the high quality of the drawing and text, the Yellow Kid soon became a national sensation. He was so popular that William Randolph Hearst, owner of the rival New York Journal, decided that he wanted a Yellow Kid, too. After various financial and legal shenanigans, both papers ended up with a Yellow Kid comic, and they soon became known as the "Yellow Kid Papers." Around the same time, both papers began running sensational stories about the Spanish-American war in an effort to boost circulation. The trouble was, many of those stories were either greatly exaggerated or simply untrue! Thus was born the old phrase yellow journalism (first use: 1898), which is journalism that exaggerates or distorts the news to create publicity and increase circulation.

Ah, the heady days when journalism was only about making money! Now all too often the point of journalism seems to be more about wielding power to directly influence public opinion and therefore to indirectly influence public policy. That's spin journalism.

This phrase has been a British affair, for the most part, but the earliest citation occurred on the left side of the pond.
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