weapon of mass distraction
n. Something that distracts large numbers of people from thinking about important issues.
For a few hours at least today, the heat will be off George W Bush as America switches focus from Baghdad to San Diego. Maybe the Super Bowl will be the weapon of mass distraction that Bush has been praying for.
—James Corrigan, “Cinderella really goes to the bowl,” Independent on Sunday (London), January 26, 2003
1997 (earliest)
That lesson was reinforced for Danny Schechter when he covered one of the biggest stories of the decade: the election that brought Nelson Mandela to power in South Africa. The U.S. networks weren't interested in his vivid, insider's account of the Mandela campaign — and this at a time when hundreds of hours were broadcast about the O. J. Simpson trial. No wonder the creator of M.A.S.H. called TV "the weapon of mass distraction."
—Michele Landsberg, “No room for human rights on TV's agenda of greed,” The Toronto Star, December 07, 1997
Gabriel Byrne … will star in the HBO movie "Weapons of Mass Distraction," a black comedy about two feuding media moguls who clash while vying to buy a Los Angeles sports franchise.
—Marisa Guthrie, “Plugged In,” The Boston Herald, November 17, 1996