This one was spoken by ESPN’s Michele Steele on NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday. She was discussing the horse racing drug scandal involving the Kentucky Derby winner, Justify. Here’s the transcript: https://www.npr.org/2019/09/14/760780871/saturday-sports-horse-racing-antonio-brown.
This is a nice congruent conflation of “closing ranks” and “circling the wagons”, both meaning to become defensive. A big thanks to Martin Pietrucha for hearing this one and striking malaphor gold! @ESPNMichele