The Daily Prophet and the Deathly Hallows

dh.c22--the-deathly-hallows

Going Underground:

The Daily Prophet under Ministry control, Potterwatch Begins, and The Quibbler Quibbles

In the final book, the Daily Prophet serves many uses, depending on who is in control of the paper at the time. For example, Professor Charity Burbage successfully publishes a spirited defense of half-bloods. However, she is then captured, tortured, and murdered at Voldemort’s hands in the Malfoys’ home (DH 12).

The paper also contains a positive obituary of Dumbledore written by a longtime friend (DH 15–20) and an interview with Rita Skeeter about her forthcoming negative book on Dumbledore (DH 22–28). Both perspectives become integral aspects of Harry’s rocky journey toward making his own choices and mistakes.

We also learn from the Daily Prophet that Harry is now “sought for questioning” about Dumbledore’s death (DH 207). The Daily Prophet announces the “Muggle-born Register” (DH 208) and that Professor Snape has been selected as Hogwarts’s new Headmaster (DH 225). In addition, the Daily Prophet informs our three good friends, who are on the run, that Hermione is “on the list of Muggle-borns who didn’t present themselves for interrogation” (DH 231). A picture from the Daily Prophet of Harry, Ron, and Hermione escaping from Gringotts on the back of a dragon is later used by the Snatchers to determine that they have just captured Hermione and Harry (DH 451).Without access to other forms of information, the Daily Prophet, no matter how corrupt and biased, provides vital open source intelligence to the Trio.

Once again, Harry is personally attacked as “Undesirable Number One” (DH 252, 315, 525), complete with wanted posters bearing his picture. Once Voldemort is in control of the Ministry of Magic, nothing in the Daily Prophet can be considered credible. Once again, the alternative newspaper, The Quibbler, attempts to describe what is really going on (DH 299). But once Luna is taken by a group of Death Eaters, Mr. Lovegood is forced to attack Harry publicly in his paper (DH 419).

So another means is adopted to get the truth out— and Potterwatch, a radio program, is born (DH 437). This underground source of intelligence deserves more attention that we typically give it. Complete with code names, secret locations, and magical passwords, the makers of Potterwatch used every spy craft tool at their disposal to counteract Voldemort’s Daily Prophet propaganda.

Guess the man behind the curtain…er, I mean, code name:

Royal

Rapier

River

Romulus

What password do Ron, Harry, and Hermione use to listen to their first Potterwatch?*

Potterwatch Quotes (Courtesy of the Harry Potter Lexicon):

“. . . [we] apologize for our temporary absence from the airwaves, which was due to a number of house calls in our area by those charming Death Eaters.”

“ . . .  it’s one short step from ‘Wizards first’ to ‘Purebloods first,’ and then to ‘Death Eaters.’ . . . We’re all human, aren’t we? Every human life is worth the same, and worth saving.”
Royal

“I suppose it helps, when escaping from Death Eaters, if you’ve got a sixteen-foot-high half brother?” . . .
“It would tend to give you an edge . . . ”
River and Romulus discussing Hagrid’s escape from arrest

 

*Answers will be revealed on tomorrow’s blog!

The Daily Prophet and The Return of Voldemort (Book 6)

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

The Truth (and Fear) Will Set You Free (to Sell More Papers!)

In the next book—following Voldemort’s return—the Daily Prophet spends much of its time warning the Wizarding world about the return of Voldemort (HBP 39–41). Finally! The Daily Prophet also informs the public that Fudge has been sacked, offers a description of the events at the Department of Mysteries (but not details of the prophecy), and covers almost daily stories of disappearances, odd accidents, and deaths (HBP 60, 77–78, 105). It takes an experience spy — like Hermione — to begin connecting the dots between all of these little disappearances, accidents, and deaths.

Hermione_Granger_reading_The_Daily_Prophet

As time goes on, the Daily Prophet informs the public about Dementor attacks and the arrest of Stan Shunpike (HBP 221). The Wizarding newspaper also reports an argument between Dumbledore and the new Minister of Magic, Rufus Scrimgeour, which we find out later was the result of Scrimgeour’s request to meet with Harry (HBP 61, 357). Dumbledore tells Harry, “The Prophet is bound to report the truth occasionally, if only by accident” (HBP 357). (This reminds us of a saying: Even a broken clock is right two times a day!)

Spy Tip: Even if the open source is highly unreliable, be sure to look at it carefully. You never know what you might find!

Importantly, when Hermione wants to do research on the Half- Blood Prince, she goes through the old Daily Prophets and discovers an announcement of one Eileen Prince marrying a Tobias Snape (HBP 637), thus confirming that Severus Snape was the Prince all along.

Spy Tip: Open source information from the past is just as important as current open source information!

Fun Fact:

Did you know that there is an evening edition of the Daily Prophet called the Evening Prophet? We learn about the Evening Prophet when Professor Snape confronts Harry and Ron about being seen flying in Mr. Weasley’s Ford Anglia (CS 79) and also reference to an article about Arthur Weasley’s search of Malfoy Manor (HBP 234, 635).

 

“We Fudge the Truth” – The Daily Prophet and the Order of the Phoenix

 

TheBoyWhoLies

The Ministry Becomes the Ministry of Lies—Its Slogan, “We Fudge the Truth”

In the book that we have already spent so much time discussing and dissecting, we find out that the Daily Prophet has spent the entire summer (following the murder of Cedric Diggory and Harry’s escape from Voldemort) denouncing Harry’s story and publishing articles denigrating and attacking Harry Potter (OP 73). When the ten Death Eaters escape from Azkaban, the Ministry of Magic uses the Daily Prophet to present its conclusion—based solely on the fact that Black had previously escaped from Azkaban— that the Death Eaters were assisted in their escape by Sirius Black (OP 544–45).

Dumbledore repeatedly tells Fudge and the others the truth, but they refuse to have any part of it. Only at the end, when Fudge sees Voldemort with his own eyes (and in the presence of other witnesses!) does the paper finally print the truth about Voldemort’s return—as well as Harry Potter’s redemption as the lone voice of truth in the wilderness of lies (OP 817).

Umbridge Daily Prophet

Notice how the Daily Prophet is also used to extol Professor Umbridge’s values as a Professor of Defense Against the Dark Arts and as Hogwarts’s first High Inquisitor (OP 306–8). In the process of describing what a wonderful headmistress Dolores Umbridge is, the Daily Prophet obtains a single countervailing view from one Professor Marchbanks—and then immediately attacks her credibility via a separate article providing “a full account of Madam Marchbanks’s alleged links to subversive goblin groups” (OP 308). Talk about argument ad hominem!

Near the end book 5, an alternative newspaper, The Quibbler, prints an exclusive interview with Harry conducted by none other than Rita Skeeter. This game-changing piece is eventually reprinted in its entirety by the Daily Profit—er, we mean Prophet—once the return of Voldemort is finally acknowledged.

Spy Term

argument ad hominem (n): a fallacy in logic in which the position or viewpoint of a particular person is rejected based solely on a negative view of that person.

Example: The Daily Prophet repeatedly rejected Harry’s statements that Voldemort had returned by attacking him personally. It damaged his credibility rather than addressing his claims head on with evidence that Voldemort had not returned.

The Ethics of Reporting vs. The Ethics of Spying

 

The Tri-Wizard Tournament—Speak Slowly into My Acid Pen

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I

In Goblet of Fire, we find out through Rita Skeeter what damage an unethical reporter can do. It is obvious that her main focus is gossip and certainly not the truth. Rita Skeeter repeatedly fails to accurately document what people say, twisting it instead to her own ends and adding adjectives and adverbs to describe her “personal” observations— or, more accurately, her personal slant on her observations (GF 147, 202–3, 314–15, 437–40, 611–13)!

We eventually find out how Rita Skeeter gets so much juicy information: she is “bugging” everyone’s secure areas—by being a bug (GF 727)! Obviously, she obtains her information without the permission of the person she is “interviewing”—which is in itself quite unethical. Reporters are supposed to identify themselves and request an interview. Rita Skeeter is instead using what we would consider spy craft to eavesdrop on people and gather information.

Books_chapterart_gof_37

Unfortunately the movies skipped right over this juicy tidbit. Discovering that Rita Skeeter was an unregistered animagus may have been one of Hermione’s best moments!

 

 

Although spies are able to do eavesdrop on people, it is unethical for the press to use such means—as certain members of the press in London found out in 2011 when it was revealed that reporters were illegally intercepting and taping phone calls of famous people (including royalty) to get juicy stories. Read more about the International Phone Hacking Scandal here! 

peter-earnest-head-shot-372x372 In Harry Potter and the Art of Spying, Peter Earnest shares the story of the time he had to bug the office of one of his assets while working as a clandestine officer for the CIA!

We LOVE to HATE Rita Skeeter. Read other articles written by her on our blog! Long Lost Interview of Severus Snape, Rita Skeeter Interviews the Authors of Art of Spying , and Rita Skeeter Interviews President Obama.

The Daily Prophet and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Sirius Black

The Hunt for Sirius Black—Supposed Death Eater and Escape Artist

As in the matter of Gilderoy Lockhart, the Daily Prophet seems unable to properly investigate the story of Sirius Black. Why was there no thorough and substantial investigation of how Sirius was able to escape Azkaban? His escape would have been a good opportunity to review the facts surrounding the murder of thirteen Muggles and determine whether there was any real proof that Sirius Black had committed the murders of which he had been found guilty. Of course, no investigation happens and the Daily Prophet relies instead in providing a “social benefit” to the Wizarding world by extolling the dangers of one Sirius Black, killer of Muggles, follower of Voldemort, and master escape artist. We also observe in this book that the Ministry of Magic is more than happy to use the Daily Prophet as a propaganda tool and purveyor of disinformation about Sirius Black— quite often as a cover-up for its own inadequacies, mistakes, and plain stupidity (PA 37).

Consider how small details like Sirius Black’s presence at the scene of the crime, the disappearance of Peter Pettigrew, and Sirius’ supposed role as the Potter’s secret keeper led the Ministry and the rest  of the wizarding world to believe that Sirius had to be guilty of murder. However, the lie was given extra weight because the Daily Prophet, an established source, supported it. The media has a lot more power than you might think, and it’s important to pay attention to how they interpret the details!

 

Spy Terms:

Disinformation (n): intentionally incorrect information, often provided to an enemy for the purpose of influencing the enemy’s reactions. For examples of real-world espionage that relied on disinformation, check out the Wikipedia article! 

Propoganda (n): False information, usually disseminated by the government

Established Source (n): Any source that has been used regularly and found to be reliable.

For more information about the role of the Daily Prophet in Harry Potter spy craft, try these posts: Check your Sources and The Daily Prophet and Open Source Information. 

Check Your Sources: Gilderoy Lockhart and the Daily Prophet

 

Lockhart

A couple weeks ago we discussed Hermione’s expert use of open source information — namely textbooks and the Daily Prophet — to figure out exactly what was hidden beneath Fluffy’s ginormous paws. However, in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, we find out that Hermione may put too much trust in her sources. Her infatuation with Gilderoy Lockhart despite his obvious ineptitude demonstrates that she missed something right in front of her. A good spy knows to use the press as a source of information that may be manipulated and flawed.

Hermione and Gilderoy

As we find out in Chamber of Secrets, Gilderoy Lockhart is quite the celebrity— in part thanks to all of the wonderful press that he receives from the Daily Prophet, and from the magazine Witch Weekly, which voted his the Most Charming Smile five times in a row (CS 91)! Interestingly enough, no one on the Daily Prophet staff thought to investigate Lockhart’s feats, so avidly detailed in all of his many books. Note also that the professors at Hogwarts determine—quite quickly—that Professor Lockhart is a fraud. You’d think that any newspaper with even a concept of investigative reporting could have found this out just as easily! But then again, any reporter who looked into Lockhart’s alleged accomplishments would probably find himself or herself at the wrong end of a well-aimed Memory Charm—so perhaps the Daily Prophet would be unable to find out the truth after all (CS 297). Lockhart waged what spies call a disinformation campaign to avoid anyone discovering his lack of defense against the dark arts ability. In later books, Harry, Ron, and Hermione, learn to be much more skeptical of open source intelligence.

Spy Term

Disinformation Campaign (n): an intentional program of distributing false information. Example: Lockhart “leaks” a story about being captured by trolls to boost his popularity. His best-selling books are also carefully designed to distribute false information.

What are some other examples of disinformation campaigns in the Harry Potter series? What about in real life?

The Daily Prophet and Open Source Information

Gringotts Break in

In the world of espionage there are many ways to get important information. The spies in the Harry Potter series all seem to have their favorite way of information gathering. Hermione, for example, ALWAYS goes to the library when she wants to find answers:

“Harry — I think I’ve just understood something! I’ve got to go to the library!”
And she sprinted away, up the stairs.
What does she understand?” said Harry distractedly, still looking around, trying to tell where the voice had come from.
“Loads more than I do,” said Ron, shaking his head.
“But why’s she got to go to the library?”
“Because that’s what Hermione does,” said Ron, shrugging. “When in doubt, go to the library.”

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

This means that Hermione is an expert at collecting open source information.

Open Source (n): a collection of information that is generally open to all, such as newspapers, articles, maps, or other publications or documents

Her talents, of course, were cultivated after her first year at Hogwarts when an article in the Daily Prophet, a Chocolate Frog, and a  history textbook gave Harry, Ron, and Hermione the clues to what was hidden beneath Fluffy. Thanks to the Daily Prophet, Harry discovers—and relays to Hermione and Ron—that there had been a robbery attempt on vault number 713 after Hagrid had withdrawn whatever he obtained on Dumbledore’s behalf (SS 141). Hagrid had already told Harry that he was on a mission for Professor Dumbledore and that it was top secret. Hagrid is definitely being a secret agent for Professor Dumbledore, though we wonder how secret an agent he is when he discloses so much of what he is doing to Harry (SS 63)!

By combining the information from the Daily Prophet with Hagrid’s loose lips, Dumbledore’s bio on the back of a Chocolate Frog card, and a chapter from the history textbook that Hermione checked out for “a bit of light reading,” the Trio makes use of all-source intelligence:

all-source intelligence (n): intelligence derived from every type of intelligence available, including covert or secret intelligence

Click here for an analysis of the role the Daily Prophet played in the Chamber of Secrets!