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



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.

Quiz: The Daily Prophet Reveals All

Cho Valentine

Voldemort may have stayed undercover for most of Order of the Phoenix, but the alert spy had plenty of chances to find out little bits of what the Dark Lord was up to. How much do you know about his clandestine operations? Oh, and how much do you know about girls? Harry certainly struggled to understand Cho….

1. Harry “feels” that Voldemort is very, very happy about something, which is front page the next day in the Daily Prophet. What has happened?

2. As Harry and Cho head for their Valentine’s date, Cho observes that unlike when Sirius Black escaped from Azkaban, something is missing. What?

3. Being a good intelligence analysis, what does Harry conclude from this fact and from the escape itself?

4. In the same edition of the Daily Prophet, Hermione discovers that someone was killed by a deadly plant. Who was killed and by what plant?

5. Harry had seen the plant but didn’t do anything. Why not?

6. Hermione concludes what about the placement of Devil’s Snare next to Bede’s hospital bed?

7. What does Harry mention during his Valentine’s date with Cho that results in making the date go terribly wrong?

8. When Harry finally realizes why Cho is jealous of Hermione he fails to maintain his demeanor or apply situational awareness and laughs at the idea of him and Hermione as “an item.” What does Cho do?

9. When Harry meets up with Hermione at The Three Broomsticks he first talks to a friend who has perhaps drank too much. Who is it?

10. When Harry goes to sit down with Hermione, what other two people are with her, to Harry’s great surprise?


Spy Terms:

It’s high time we discussed the different levels of secrecy in the CIA. Author Peter Earnest, current Director of the International Spy Museum, spent 25 years as a clandestine officer. But what does that mean exactly?

Clandestine Operation (n): An operation sponsored or conducted by governmental departments or agencies in such a way as to assure secrecy or concealment. A clandestine operation differs from a covert operation in that emphasis is placed on concealment of the operation rather than on concealment of the identity of the sponsor.

In plain English: The operation is so secret you won’t even know it happened. The people who conduct these operations essentially don’t exist.

Harry Potter Example: Voldemort had intended his return to life/form to be a clandestine operation. No wizard (other than his followers) was supposed to know he’d returned.

Covert Operation (n): An operation that is so planned and executed as to conceal the identity of or permit plausible denial by the sponsor

In plain English: The world knows something happened. They just don’t know who did it!

Harry Potter Example: When the Death Eaters escape from Azkaban, everyone knows someone set them free. No one, however, seems to know who did it. Those who believe Harry when he says Voldemort is back understandably suspect the Dark Lord. The Daily Prophet, however, convinced many that Sirius Black was responsible!

Quiz: Close Your Mind, Harry!

Occlumency Scene

After Christmas, life for Harry Potter and his friends gets significantly more complicated. Voldemort is not only back, he is clearly after something and he is not afraid to hurt people Harry loves to get it. Take this quiz to see how much spy craft you picked up on while you read this part of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix! Answers will be posted here tomorrow!

1. As Harry leaves Grimmauld Place to return to Hogwart’s after Christmas break, Sirius gives him a special communication device. What is it?

2. What is the mode of transportation back to Hogwarts after Christmas break?

3. Who is the driver (who is later arrested by the Ministry on trumped up charges)?

4. Dumbledore realizes through his double agent that Voldemort perceived Harry’s intrusion into his mind when he was possessing the snake. What countermeasure does Dumbledore insist Harry learn to prevent Voldemort from turning Harry into a spy against him?

5. When Harry asks Snape how they know that Voldemort detected Harry, Snape applies the need-to-know rule against Harry, and tells him what?

6. Before their special lessons, Snape takes what and puts them away in a secure location?

7. When Snape is able to see Harry’s memories that he fears, Snape warns Harry about what?

8. During Harry’s lesson with Snape he is able to see further along the hallway of his dreams and recognizes where the hallway is located. Which is where?

9. What is the name of the Weasley twins’ new invention that makes your head disappear?

10. Why should the Weasley twins be assigned to the CIA Science and Technology directorate?

Spy Terms:

CIA Science and Technology Directorate (proper noun): One of 4 major CIA components, this division develops technologies that provide officers in the field with a significant intelligence advantage. Follow the link to learn more!

Need-to-Know (adj): A security standard in which only those persons who absolutely must know the information have access to it.

         Example: Only the members of the Order of the Phoenix are allowed to know the address of number 12 Grimmauld Place, which is given to each one by the Secret Keeper, Albus Dumbledore.



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. 

Answers: Christmas at Headquarters


You’ll find the answers to yesterday’s quiz below. These may seem like trifling details in the Order of the Phoenix, but a good spy knows that you need all of the little details in order to see the whole picture. Let us know how you did in the comments!

1. Kreacher keeps a framed photo of his favorite person in his hovel. Whose picture?

Bellatrix Lestrange

2. What is St. Mungo’s full name?

St. Mungo’s Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries

3. Who transports the Weasleys and Harry to St. Mungo’s on Christmas day, probably in a stolen Muggle car?

Mundungus Fletcher

4. When the Weasleys begin arguing about using human stitches, the children decide to go to the tea room. Who demonstrates his powers of observation by knowing what floor it is on?


5. Name two adults and one fellow student that the children run into at St. Mungo’s.

Gilderoy Lockhart, Neville’s Grandmother, and Neville Longbottom.

6. While in the locked ward, the children observe the nurse delivering a plant to a patient. Who is the patient?


7. What eventually happens to Broderick?

The plant kills him

8. What is the name of the ability to tell what people are thinking?


9. What is the name of the countermeasure to prevent someone “reading minds”?


10. Harry is given a cover story for why he is having lessons with Professor Snape. What is that cover story?

 He is seeing Professor Snape for Remedial Potions

Don’t forget to try some of our other quizzes! How much do you know about St. Mungos, The Attack on Arthur Weasley, or Hagrid’s GIANT secret?

The Spies Among Us: Professor Quirrell

Quirrinius Quirrell

Professor Quirrell

A good example of someone assisting Voldemort, and gladly so, is Professor Quirrell. After all, Voldemort has gotten, you might say, inside his head. At the end of book 1, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Quirrell seems more than happy to have assisted Lord Voldemort in his endeavors: he says so quite clearly—without any stuttering or nervousness! Unfortunately for him, Voldemort abandons Quirrell without hesitation, once again on the run as an ephemeral spirit looking for the next minion to help him return to physical existence.

Professor Quirrell Analysis

Recruitment by: Voldemort in a forest in Albania

Incentive Used: The promise of receiving great power

Handler: Voldemort himself—under Quirrell’s turban

Method of Communication: Direct—he’s, like, right behind you, man!

Memorable Quotes:

“A foolish young man I was then, full of ridiculous ideas about good and evil. Lord Voldemort showed me how wrong I was. There is no good and evil, there is only power, and those too weak to seek it. . . . Since then, I have served him faithfully, although I have let him down many times” (SS 290).

“Sometimes,” he said, “I find it hard to follow my master’s instructions—he is a great wizard and I am weak—” (SS 290).


Remember how Quirrell seems to be a bumbling, frightened idiot?

Turns out his stupidity is actually a superb act.

Lesson #1 about Recruitment: Recruit Smart Spies Who Appear Stupid:

The famous Chinese general Sun-Tzu wrote in his famous book The Art of War in Part XIII 11 that good spies should seem stupid:

“As living spies we must recruit men who are intelligent but appear to be stupid; who seem to be dull but are strong in heart; men who are agile, vigorous, hardy, and brave; well-versed in lowly matters and able to endure hunger, cold, filth, and humiliation.”

Watch as Quirrell reveals his true colors!


Be sure to check out the other spies we’ve discussed in the Harry Potter Series: Mundungus Fletcher, Kreacher and the Death Eaters. And check back with us in a few weeks for our next installment of The Spies Among Us!

Quiz: St. Mungo’s

St. Mungo's

After Arthur Weasley was attacked at the Ministry of Magic, Dumbledore and the Order of the Phoenix scramble to protect the secret organization and figure out what happened. Do you remember all of the spy craft that they used as everyone rushed to St. Mungo’s? If you think you do, take this quiz to find out! Answers are posted here.

1. Dumbledore stations a guard outside his door to provide a warning if anyone comes (Umbridge). Who does he use?

2. Dumbledore uses an instrument that exudes smoke in the form of a snake and says, “But in essence divided?” What has he just concluded?

3. In order to keep the situation secret, Dumbledore uses a Portkey to send all of the Weasley’s and Harry where?

4. The entrance to St. Mungo’s is camouflaged to look like what?

5. What is the name of the healer and later headmistress of Hogwarts, whose portrait is at both places?

6. Why isn’t the attack on Mr. Weasley reported in the Daily Prophet?

7. Fred and George explain to their father, “You were guarding it, weren’t you?” What do they think he was guarding?

8. Upon returning to Grimmauld Place, Harry is convinced he is a danger to the others. Why does he believe he is a danger?

9. Name the person who had previously been possessed by Voldemort and was able to convince Harry that he is not being possessed?

10. Whose Headmaster portrait is in Harry’s room at Grimmauld Place and is able to keep tabs on Harry?


Spy Term

High-Security Asset (n): A person or item that is actively sought after by the opposing side.

Example: The mysterious item that Fred and George believe their father was guarding; Harry Potter himself, as demonstrated by the precautions taken to retrieve him from Number 4 Privet Drive.


Check Your Sources: Gilderoy Lockhart and the Daily Prophet



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?

Trivia: Dumbledore’s Army at Work

Ron as Keeper


It’s time for more trivia! We’re making our way through Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix ten trivia questions at a time. This week, we’re adding SPY TERMS to our trivia. Words or phrases in bold will be defined and demonstrated with examples from Harry Potter following all of the questions. Let us know what you think!

1. Cho’s suggestion that they call their subversive organization “Defense Army”  is rejected because it implies what they are doing. Who suggests Dumbledore’s Army?

2. Why do the students decide on Dumbledore’s Army as the name?
3. Harry decides to start the DA training by working on one basic spell. What is it?
4. Which student thinks the spell is too simple, until he is told Harry has used it against Voldemort?
5. What does Cho tell Harry about Marietta that makes him wonder if she is a security risk?
6.  What device does Hermione come up with to use for Harry to communicate to all the DA members about meeting times?
7.  The Hermione’s idea about the fake Galleon reminds Harry of what Death Eater communication method?
8. What do the Slytherins use at the Quidditch match to conduct psychological operations against Ron?

9.  How does Malfoy bait the Gryffindor winners?

10. Gryffindor’s win at the Quidditch match is a Pyrrhic victory? How so?

Important Spy Term:

Psychological operations (n): Also known as PSYOPS, this term refers to the use of psychological intelligence  in an operation normally intended to convince a person (an enemy or a potential agent) of the need to act a certain way.

Example: Professor Umbridge’s use of detentions and torture was intended to break Harry and convince him to cooperate with the Ministry. Fortunately for Dumbledore’s Army, it had the opposite effect!

To test your Harry Potter knowledge to the max, try our trivia beginning with the first chapter of Order of the Phoenix by clicking here. Answers will be posted tomorrow!

A Glossary of Spy Terms- The “A”s Have It!

Harry Potter A

We’ve deciphered codes, unearthed hidden messages in our chapter titles, and even explored the ethical dilemmas facing someone like Dumbledore. Yet, we have never given you, our readers, an glossary of the spy terms we keep throwing around. Learn about the world of spying and spy craft from A-Z! Er, well, for now it’ll just be the As!

access—authorization to receive information that is limited to a select group of people who have the correct security clearance. Example: Members of the Order of the Phoenix attended the meetings at number twelve, Grimmauld Place, but Harry and his friends were not allowed to attend the meetings because of their age and not yet being members of the Order of the Phoenix.

accommodation address—a mailbox used as a drop point for mail. In the modern world, it applies not only to an actual mailbox, but also a person or business willing to accept the mail, or even a special email address that does not indicate the actual name of the address owner. Example: When Harry was staying at the Weasleys’ home, before his second year at Hogwarts began, the Burrow served as his accommodation address.

Hedwig with Mail

administrative orders—orders or directives issued by an agency authorized to do so and directed at individuals or an entire group. Example: The educational decrees issued by the Ministry of Magic at the request of Professor Umbridge are administrative orders.

agent—an individual who is hired or employed by a country, or is acting on his or her own, to spy or obtain inside information; that information may be given or sold to a country or another entity. Example: Professor Quirrell and Peter Pettigrew both served as agents for Voldemort, assisting him in regaining his corporeal body.

agent in charge—The particular agent who is in charge of the details or operation of the mission. Example: On two occasions when Harry was moved from Privet Drive to another location, the agent in charge was Mad-Eye Moody.

Mad Eye Moody

agent-in-place (mole)—an individual who is “in place” and has access to information or knowledge, and who stays in that location in order to continue providing information or knowledge. Example: The Auror Kingsley Shacklebolt served as an agent-in-place at the Ministry, ostensibly looking for Sirius Black but in reality providing information to the Order of the Phoenix about not only the search for Sirius Black, but also about the Ministry’s knowledge as to the actions of Lord Voldemort or his Death Eaters.

agent of influence—an agent with the ability to influence leaders of a country or the press by providing special information or insight that could result in a change of policy or public opinion. Example: Lucius Malfoy provided suggestions and opinions to Cornelius Fudge about what to do with Harry and his claims that Voldemort was back.

Lucius Malfoy

agent provocateur—an individual who is normally on site in a different country and attempts to serve as a catalyst to get others to take actions that are desired by the country or entity that employs that person. Example: Lee Jordan was trying to provoke (and generally bother) Professor Umbridge by secretly placing nifflers in her office.

alibi—an assertion by a person that he or she was somewhere else when something occurred, showing that the person could not have participated in that event. Example: When the Niffler was put into Professor Umbridge’s office, Hagrid had what should have been a perfect alibi because he was seen teaching on the grounds at the time.

all-source intelligence—intelligence derived from every type of intelligence available, including covert or secret intelligence. Example: In book 7, when trying to figure out the locations of the Horcruxes, Harry uses every source of information available to him: the information Dumbledore shared with him, articles from the Daily Prophet, and even Rita Skeeter’s tell-all book.

alternative explanation—a different explanation or reason for some occurrence or conclusion. Example: Harry went through many alternative explanations while trying to determine why he could see through the eyes of the snake, including being possessed by Voldemort.

analysis—the use of logic and observation to reach conclusions that are proper and based on fact. Example: Throughout book 7, Harry, Hermione, and Ron use analysis to determine where the Horcruxes are located.

Hermione in Chamber of Secrets

appointment power—the authority of a high-ranking individual to select and appoint others to posts or positions in the organization. Example: Minister of Magic Fudge used his appointment power to install Professor Umbridge as the first Hogwarts High Inquisitor, and later as Headmistress of Hogwarts.

argument ad hominem—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, making his credibility an issue, rather than by presenting hard evidence that Voldemort had not returned.

Daily Prophet

assessment—a formal review of the reliability or validity of information or intelligence, or the written version of such a review. Example: According to Fudge (who had just been sacked) there is going to be an inquiry about Sirius Black being murdered on Ministry of Magic premises; someone will be doing a formal assessment—and no doubt a written report will be provided to the new Minister of Magic, Rufus Scrimgeour.

asset—something of value; in the spy world, an asset is an individual, technology, or other means to obtain intelligence. Example: Each time Harry was moved from number four, Privet Drive, members of the Order of the Phoenix formed a security team to protect Harry due to his being a high-value asset.

assumption of leadership—the act of taking over a particular position or leadership role. Example: Dolores Umbridge assumed leadership of Hogwarts after Dumbledore evaded capture and disappeared.


attaché—an expert assigned as a consultant to an embassy in a foreign country knowledgeable about a particular subject; if the person is an active duty military person, he or she is referred to as a military attaché. Example: Kingsley Shacklebolt, an expert on the Wizarding world and magical defense, is the Ministry of Magic’s attaché to the Other Prime Minister.

Aunt Minnies—photographs taken to capture an item of interest in the background of what appears to be an innocent candid photo: for example, your “Aunt Minnie” poses in the foreground, with a building targeted for covert penetration in the background. It is a common pretext for photographing a target without appearing to be gathering information covertly. Example: In the picture of Ron and his family on holiday in Egypt you can see a Pyramid in the background, and of course Scabbers on Ron’s shoulder. If the person taking the photo were really interested in something else (like the Pyramid, or even Scabbers!) and the use of the family was just an excuse to take the picture of something other than the family, then the photo would be an Aunt Minnie.

Weasleys at the Pyramids