bend the truth

(idiomatic) To change or leave out certain facts of a story or situation, generally in order to elicit a specific response in the audience.

Example:   In relating the story to Julie, he decided to bend the truth just enough to make her think he had really been in danger.
1991 5/24, Larry Kahhan, “Gun-control groups shouldn^t hail Brady Bill too early”, Atlanta Journal Constitution, Letters to the Editor:
  In his warped attempt to bend the truth completely out of shape, ....
1995 2/23, “Letters to the Post”, Denver Post, page B-06:
  In a Feb. 5 column, Dottie Lamm seemed quite happy to bend the truth in all directions
2001, Tom Clancy, The Bear and the Dragon:
  KGB had always been on the lookout for hard facts, but then reported those facts to people besotted with a dream, who then bent the truth in the service of that dream. When the truth had finally broken through, the dream had suddenly evaporated like a cloud of steam in a high wind, and reality had poured in like the flood following the breakup of an icebound river in springtime.