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Back to the Future: The “modified, limited hang out,” c. 2013

Anyone who remembers Watergate is familiar with the phrase “modified limited hang out.”

Among those who practice the public relations-propaganda black arts, a “hang out” is a misdirection technique that releases previously unknown, and damaging information ( usually with an accompanying apology and a promise to “never, never” do it again) in order to deflect attention away from something that is much worse and far more harmful.

The phrase achieved near-iconic status when this transcript of a secret Nixon Oval Office tape was released:

NIXON: You think, you think we want to, want to go this route now? And the….let it hang out , so to speak?

DEAN: Well, it’s…it isn’t really that….

HALDEMAN: It’s a limited hang out.

DEAN: It’s a limited hang out.

ERLICHMAN: It’s a modified limited hang out.

NIXON: Well, it’s only the questions of the thing hanging out publicly or privately

It’s quite easy (indeed, it almost writes itself) to imagine a similar Oval Office conversation between Obama, Hillary, Valerie Jarrett, and Jay Carney……

OBAMA: You think, you think…we want to push this IRS story now? Give the press something else to chew on besides Benghazi?

CARNEY: Duh?

JARRETT: It’s a limited hang out.

CARNEY: DUH???

JARRETT: It’s a limited hang out.

CARNEY: DUH???

JARRETT: It’s a modified limited hang out.

CARNEY: OH!! DUH!!!!

OBAMA: Well. it’s only the questions of the thing hanging out publicly or privately, and if I have to miss a tee time.

HILLARY: Geez! Will you guys PLEASE STOP talking about your johnsons hanging out there. It’s MY ASS on the line here, and I’ve got the biggest one, and the most to lose if this blows up in our faces.

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