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?

For Your Eyes Only: Answers to Order of the Phoenix Quiz!

Foryoureyesonly

Check out the answers to Monday’s quiz!

1. When one attacks a person instead of his or ideas, it is called what fallacy?

Argument ad hominem. An example would be the Daily Prophet’s attempts to discredit Harry when he claims Voldemort is alive.

2. When Harry and his friends first enter the kitchen at headquarters a classified document has not yet been put away.  What was it?

A parchment with plans to the Ministry of Magic

3. Sirius, when discussing why a certain member of the Order is tolerated, states that crooks “hear things we don’t.”  Who is Sirius referring to?

Mundungus Fletcher

4. Members of the Order of the Phoenix proved a psychological assessment of someone as having petty jealousies, a fear of Dumbledore, and a desire to retain power.  Who are they talking about?

Cornelius Fudge.

5. Spies use manipulation and flattery to get what they want.  Who said in the Chamber of Secrets, “I’ve always been able to charm the people I needed.”

Tom Riddle

6. Name the double agent that works at the Ministry of Magic, is assigned to locate Sirius Black, and is actually a member of the Order of the Phoenix?

Kingsley Shacklebolt

7. Kreacher is a known risk but must follow Sirius’s orders to the letter.  What does Sirius say to Kreacher that allows him to partake on a secret mission?

“Go away.” Always be sure your directives to an agent are clear. 

8. Code-Breaking Time:  What number does Mr. Weasley have Harry enter into the phone box at the visitor’s entrance?  And what English word does it spell out?

6-2-4-4-2, which spells MAGIC on a phone’s keypad

9. Harry shows a spy’s discretion when he is in Mr. Weasley’s office and pretends not to know what member of the Order?

Kingsley Shacklebolt

10. Cornelius Fudge used what simple disinformation to try to ensure that Dumbledore didn’t attend Harry’s trial?

He told him the wrong time

Be sure to check out our next quiz: The Hearing at the Ministry of Magic! Also, we released a special quiz in honor of Emma Watson’s birthday. How well do you know the young star?

The Advance Guard: A Harry Potter Quiz

 

 

 

The Advance Guard

Last week was the first Harry Potter and the Art of Spying quiz. The answers were released Friday. How did you do? This week’s quiz covers Harry’s trip from number 4 Privet Drive to the Order of the Phoenix safe house. Would you have made a good agent for his security detail?

  1. Before the security detail takes Harry away, they await an all-clear signal.  What was the signal?
  2. Who is the leader of the security detail that exfiltrates Harry from the Dursley’s?
  3. What does the leader of the security detail rescuing Harry from the Dursley’s have everyone do on the journey on their brooms to make sure they aren’t being followed?
  4. What “eyes-only” document does Harry read before first entering headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix?
  5. Provide the address of the Order of the Phoenix safe house.
  6. Name the device invented by the Weasley twins to listen in on conversations.
  7. What counter-measure is used by Mrs. Weasley to prevent her twin boys from listening with their listening device?
  8. What does Ginny Weasley use to determine if Mrs. Weasley’s counter-measure is being used?
  9. Which member of the Weasley family in the fifth book totally accepts the Ministry of Magic’s party line?
  10. What publication spent the whole summer before Harry’s fifth year publishing a disinformation campaign against Harry?

P.S. You may be able to find hints in other Art of Spying blog posts or by following Art of Spying on Twitter!