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The term originates from Kelvin MacKenzie's time at the The Sun. His preferred description of the role of journalists when it came to public figures was to "stick a ferret up their trousers". This meant making their lives uncomfortable, and was based on the northern sport of ferret legging (wherein contestants compete to show who can endure a live ferret within their sealed trousers the longest). However, when it became clear that the tide of public opinion had turned against the paper's line, MacKenzie would burst from his office shouting "Reverse Ferret!"  (Wiktionary)
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