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Campaign to discredit Albus Dumbledore and Harry Potter

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Campaign to discredit Albus Dumbledore and Harry Potter
Event information
Location

Ministry of Magic, London

Date(s)

24 June, 1995[1]18 June, 1996[2]

Participant(s)
Description

The Ministry used all of its pull and influence to convince the public that Voldemort had not returned to power.

Harry Potter: "How can he think that? How can he think Dumbledore would just make it all up — that I'd make it all up?"
Sirius Black: "Because accepting Voldemort's back would mean trouble like the Ministry hasn't had to cope with for nearly fourteen years. Fudge just can't bring himself to face it. It's so much more comfortable to convince himself Dumbledore's lying and trying to destabilise him."
Remus Lupin: "You see the problem. While the Ministry insists there is nothing to fear from Voldemort, it's hard to convince people he's back, especially as they really don't want to believe it in the first place. What's more, the Ministry's leaning heavily on the Daily Prophet not to report any of what they're calling Dumbledore's rumour-mongering, so most of the Wizarding community are completely unaware anything's happened..."
Remus Lupin, Harry Potter and Sirius Black discussing the Ministry's denial of the Rebirth of Lord Voldemort.[src]

This campaign encapsulates the Ministry of Magic's attempts to discredit, slander, and smear both Albus Dumbledore and Harry Potter, as well as anyone perceived or believed to be an ally with them.

This campaign was put in place on 24 June, 1995 — after the Rebirth of Lord Voldemort and ended on 18 June, 1996 — after the Battle of the Department of Mysteries. This campaign was put into place when Minister for Magic Cornelius Fudge denied the Dark Lord's return, a fact that would ruin the thirteen years of peace that the Ministry had worked so hard to build and maintain.

Overview

Due to paranoia, Fudge believed that Dumbledore was trying to usurp his position of Minister for Magic, and not only used the Daily Prophet to make it look as though Dumbledore and Potter were liars and "nutters," but also stripped Dumbledore of many of his titles and statuses: Supreme Mugwump of the International Confederation of Wizards, the Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot, the Order of Merlin, and eventually the Headmastership of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

Harry, for supporting Dumbledore and being the one who claimed Voldemort returned, also suffered from this campaign. Fudge planted Dolores Umbridge as the Hogwarts High Inquisitor and headmistress in order to further destabilise Dumbledore and Harry. Fudge also made it clear that anyone siding with Dumbledore should clear out their desks in the Ministry's office. Due to the great influence the Ministry had, the majority of the wizarding community ceased supporting Dumbledore and Harry and lost a chance to prepare themselves against Voldemort. The campaign also pressed the position that Harry was a deluded attention-seeker that could not be trusted.

When Voldemort was revealed to have truly returned, Fudge was forced to accept it and to reveal everything to the world, by which time it was too late to prepare. The campaign, along with all the Educational Decrees and Daily Prophet articles that were crafted to fuel it, were all retracted, and Fudge was subsequently dismissed in disgrace.

Background information

"You-Know-Who... returned? Preposterous. Come now, Dumbledore..."
Cornelius Fudge on Lord Voldemort's return.[src]

Beginning in 1994, a series of odd occurrences began in the wizarding world. The first of which was the disappearance of Bertha Jorkins in Albania during the early summer.[3] These incidents continued throughout the following months and included the casting of the Dark Mark at the 1994 Quidditch World Cup, the scuffle at the home of Alastor Moody, and the mysterious illness and disappearance of Bartemius Crouch Sr. All of these incidents culminated with the events of 24 June, 1995. During the Third Task of the Triwizard Tournament, the fourth Champion Harry Potter and Hogwarts Champion Cedric Diggory tied for the Triwizard Cup. When they both touched it, the Cup which had been made into a Portkey, transported them to the Little Hangleton graveyard.[1] Once there, Cedric was killed by Lord Voldemort's servant Peter Pettigrew.[4]

Harry was forced to watch as the Dark Lord was reborn before his eyes. Once the potion had done its work, Harry witnessed Voldemort summon the Death Eaters by pressing Wormtail's Dark Mark.[5] Later, once he had watched Voldemort berate his Death Eaters for their betrayal and speak of his future plans, he was forced to duel with the Dark Lord. Harry only escaped, because the Priori Incantatem effect protected him. As he was running, Cedric's echo asked Harry to return with his body, which Harry did.[6]

Voldemortreborn

Voldemort after his rebirth

Upon returning to Hogwarts, Harry continued to clutch Cedric's body, refusing to let go.[7] Once Dumbledore had pulled Harry to his feet, he instructed him to remain there. When Alastor Moody removed Harry from his presence, Dumbledore realised something was wrong. Dumbledore, Minerva McGonagall, and Severus Snape rescued Harry from the impostor Moody.[7] It was revealed that Bartemius Crouch Jr., Crouch Sr.'s only son and Voldemort's most loyal Death Eater, was using Polyjuice Potion to impersonate Alastor Moody in order to perpetrate a plan for Lord Voldemort. After hearing Crouch's story and Harry's account of the events in the graveyard, Dumbledore could come to no conclusion other than that Lord Voldemort had returned.[7]

When Dumbledore informed Minister for Magic Cornelius Fudge of the events that had taken place that evening, Fudge believed them to be the work of one deranged madman. When he was taken to question Barty Crouch Jr., the Dementor that accompanied him subjected Crouch to the Dementor's Kiss before he could be actually questioned by Fudge.[8] Fudge regarded this as no loss since he had "been responsible for several deaths!"[8] When Dumbledore pointed out that this meant Crouch could no longer testify as to why he committed his crimes, Fudge stated that Crouch did them because he was a madman. Dumbledore replied that Crouch's crimes had been part of a larger plot to revive Lord Voldemort. Fudge smiled and said that Dumbledore was believing the words of a raving lunatic. Dumbledore proceeded to point out that Harry's account of what happened in the graveyard jived with what Crouch was saying. Fudge smiled again and pointed out that Harry was not necessarily the best source, as he was known to be mentally unstable.[8] Dumbledore replied,in no uncertain terms, that Harry was sane. When the others present began to defend Harry and pointed out Cedric Diggory's death (with even Harry trying to convince Fudge that Voldemort had returned and Snape showing his Dark Mark to Fudge), Fudge shouted that Dumbledore and his staff were working to destabilise thirteen years of peace.[8] Dumbledore then proceeded to give Fudge a string of suggestions to ensure the safety of the wizarding community and to defeat Lord Voldemort. When Fudge replied that his ideas would get him (Fudge) thrown out of office, Dumbledore replied that Fudge loved his office too much and that they had reached a parting of ways. While there was no hint of threat in Dumbledore's voice, Fudge took this as a threat and stormed off telling Dumbledore that they would speak in the morning about his running of Hogwarts.[8]

The Campaign

Against Albus Dumbledore

"Deep down, Fudge knows Dumbledore's much cleverer than he is, a much more powerful wizard, and in the early days of his Ministry he was forever asking Dumbledore for help and advice. But it seems that he's become fond of power now, and much more confident. He loves being Minister for Magic, and he's managed to convince himself that he's the clever one and Dumbledore's simply stirring up trouble for the sake of it."
Remus Lupin on Cornelius Fudge's attempts to discredit Dumbledore[src]

During the following summer, the Ministry of Magic began to make moves to discredit Dumbledore.[9] After he made a speech to the International Confederation of Wizards announcing Voldemort's return, he was stripped of his title as Supreme Mugwump. It is implied that he was voted out by representatives selected by the Ministry of Magic. They used the excuse that he was going senile in his old age. Soon after, he was removed from his post as Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot, for much the same reasons. Fudge even threatened to retract the Order of Merlin, First Class, from Dumbledore.[9] When he appeared as Harry's witness at the disciplinary hearing of Harry Potter, Fudge told him that he considered his (Dumbledore's) views on the Dementor attack "bilge."[10] When Fudge began to slander Harry in front of Dumbledore and the entire Wizengamot talking about Harry's misuse of magic at Hogwarts, Dumbledore pointed out that the Ministry had no right to punish students for what they did at school and could not expel students from school. Fudge took exception to this remark, indicating his want to influence the workings of Hogwarts.[10]

He got his wish a few weeks later when Dumbledore could not fill the position of Defence Against the Dark Arts professor. On 30 August, the Ministry passed Educational Decree Number Twenty-Two.[11] This established that in the event the Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry could not find someone to fill a position in his faculty, the Ministry of Magic would appoint someone instead. The following day Fudge appointed his right hand witch, Dolores Umbridge, as the new Defence Against the Dark Arts Professor, which he believed would kill two birds with one stone; Fudge now had a spy at Hogwarts, and as he believed Dumbledore was using Hogwarts as a training centre for an army to use against the Ministry, he could enforce a Ministry-approved theory-based curriculum in Defence Against the Dark Arts to prevent students from learning any practical defensive magic.[12]

Dp dumbledore daft or dangerous

The Daily Prophet against Dumbledore

Fudge further increased his control at Hogwarts on 8 September. This is when the Ministry passed Educational Decree Number Twenty-Three. This decree created the position of Hogwarts High Inquisitor, which was immediately filled by Dolores Umbridge. The reason for the decree was ostensibly to improve the "falling standards" at Hogwarts. In reality, it gave Fudge greater control of the teaching staff through Umbridge. Umbridge now had the power to inspect and suspend Hogwarts staff. Fudge continued to tighten his grip on the school throughout the school year with more Ministry decrees.

When Marietta Edgecombe betrayed Harry's rebel student group Dumbledore's Army to Umbridge in April 1996, Fudge's suspicions seemed to be validated when Dumbledore took the blame for forming the group in an act to protect Harry. When Fudge tried to arrest Dumbledore, Dumbledore attacked him and his entourage and made a hasty escape. Dumbledore was not seen again until the Battle of the Department of Mysteries.

It appears that Dumbledore took this beating from the Ministry and Daily Prophet with his usual grace. He did not show overt anger or displeasure at his treatment. This may have been because he was acting against Voldemort anyway, and there was no way the Ministry was going to stop him.

Against Harry Potter

"Potter...regularly collapses at school... brain was affected by the attack inflicted upon him by You-Know-Who."
—The Daily Prophet on Harry Potter, 24 June, 1995.
Daily prophet the boy who lies

The Daily Prophet against Harry Potter

The campaign to discredit Harry Potter unofficially began even before he gave evidence about the Return of the Dark Lord. On the day of the Third Task of the Triwizard Tournament, Rita Skeeter published an article with the title "Harry Potter Disturbed and Dangerous." Using sensationalist journalism and quotes from people known to dislike Harry such as Draco Malfoy, Rita painted a picture of Harry as an attention hungry, Parselmouth who befriended creatures that scared normal wizards such as werewolves and giants and flopped around on the ground, loudly complaining of pains in his scar. She also stated that Harry might resort to using the Dark Arts in his attempt to win the Triwizard Cup. It was nothing if not effective. When Dumbledore indicated to the Minister for Magic Cornelius Fudge that Harry's story matched the account of Barty Crouch Jr., the Minister openly claimed that Harry was unstable.

The Daily Prophet began to regularly snipe at Harry over the following summer. He became a running gag. According to Hermione Granger, the Prophet would say things like "let's hope he hasn't got a scar on his forehead or we'll be asked to worship him next" if someone had a funny accident, or if someone was telling an unlikely story, it became "a tale worthy of Harry Potter." She said that the paper was trying to portray Harry as a "deluded, attention-seeking person who thinks he's a great tragic hero." Harry, at the time, was unaware of the Ministry's denial, and did not comb through the entire Prophet to read the criticism against him and Dumbledore, instead just skimming the front page, believing that he should find articles about Voldemort's return there, only to be disappointed and throw the newspaper out when he found no such thing.

On the night of August 2nd, Harry and his cousin Dudley Dursley were attacked by Dementors in Little Whinging. The Dementors were dispatched to Little Whinging on the orders of Senior Undersecretary to the Minister Dolores Umbridge, without the knowledge of Minister Fudge. According to Umbridge, the Ministry had been going on about discrediting and/or silencing Harry, but no one was doing anything about it, so she ordered the Dementors out to Little Whinging. She knew that Harry would have to either defend himself with a Patronus Charm or be subjected to the Dementor's Kiss, either outcome working in the Ministry's favour. Using a Patronus would be a serious breach of the Decree for the Reasonable Restriction of Underage Sorcery. The Ministry initially expelled Harry from Hogwarts and planned on confiscating his wand. Dumbledore was notified in time to prevent this from happening. Harry's punishment was changed to a hearing at the Ministry.

In an underhanded move to attempt to prevent Harry from attending his own hearing, the Ministry changed the time and location of Harry's hearing on the very morning it was set to be held. Harry thankfully arrived in time to make the hearing. The disciplinary hearing of Harry Potter was tried in front of the full Wizengamot. It appeared to be nothing more than a show trial, but due to the intervention of Dumbledore, who acted as a barrister for Harry, Harry got a fair hearing. Once evidence was presented, it was obvious that Harry was not guilty, but Fudge kept trying to deny this fact. When the court was polled for a verdict, the overwhelming majority voted for acquittal, with only roughly seven, including Fudge and Umbridge, voting for conviction.

Dolores Umbridge's Regime

Dolores Umbridge Deathly Hallows promotional image

Dolores Umbridge did everything in her power to punish Harry Potter for speaking the truth and turn others againist him as she took over Hogwarts

The campaign was much less direct once Harry returned to Hogwarts. The only overt control they had was through new Defence Against the Dark Arts professor Dolores Umbridge, who punished Harry for telling the truth with sadistic and abusive punishments by means of a Blood Quill and slowly gaining more and more control over the school, whether it was inspecting teachers, interrogating students, or simply trying to convince everyone that the Ministry was right about everything.

Overall, the Ministry had a harder time getting to him, but the effects of the summer campaign continued to haunt Harry. Other students continued to heckle Harry, but overall the student populace was split. A few who knew Harry personally turned against him though. A good example of this is when Percy Weasley sent a letter to Ron. The letter told Ron to cut ties with Harry and tell tales on him to Umbridge. Also Seamus Finnigan, who shared a dormitory with Harry and was friendly with him, turned against him, calling him "mad" on the night they returned to Hogwarts.

The noose tightened on 7 October, when the Ministry passed Educational Decree Number Twenty-Four. This decree was aimed directly at Harry, his two best friends, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, and all those who had attended the first meeting of what would become Dumbledore's Army. This group, led by Harry, was formed in response to Umbridge's method of teaching only theory-based defence. They hoped to learn practical defence, knowing that Voldemort was out there. When the group was discovered, Fudge and Umbridge initially thought that they finally had a way of driving Harry Potter out of Hogwarts and marginalising him in the wizarding world. Dumbledore took the blame for Harry, enabling Harry to continue his studies.

While it seemed that Dumbledore was taking his discrediting with his usual grace, Harry was unable to control his temper at the way he was treated by the Ministry and began to lash out even at Ron and Hermione. When he read Percy's letter to Ron, it all seemed to hit home for him. Harry was terribly hurt reading those words. He had liked and lived with Percy, and now Percy was suggesting that Harry might become physically violent if Ron decided not to be friends with him. Harry ceased his subscription of the Daily Prophet out of sheer disgust, and finally found satisfaction in Dumbledore's Army. He relished the opportunity to resist Umbridge right under her nose. He poured all his effort into the D.A. as a way of making himself feel better when he was being constantly attacked.

Battle of the Department of Mysteries and the truth revealed

However, Dumbledore's Army was discovered by Umbridge, who tried to get Harry expelled for forming an illegal Defence group. However, Dumbledore took the blame for the formation of the group and was forced to flee the school. Shortly after, with Educational Decree Number Twenty-Eight, Umbridge was named Headmistress and she did all in her power to continue to discredit Harry and tighten her control over Hogwarts, but without much help from the other teachers.

Movie-duel

Voldemort and Dumbledore duelling.

After Harry got a vision of his godfather, Sirius Black, being tortured by Voldemort, he and his friends decided to go to the Department of Mysteries to rescue him (this later turned out to be a trick of Voldemort's: Black was safe, but Voldemort needed Harry to retrieve a particular prophecy from the department). Before they could leave, they were caught by Umbridge, but they eventually got rid of her by leading her into the Forbidden Forest and having her carried away by centaurs angry at her racist and arrogant remarks towards them.

The students headed to the Department of Mysteries, where they found Lord Voldemort's Death Eaters waiting for them. a battle ensued, during which Harry's friends were injured and the prophecy destroyed. The Order of the Phoenix arrived and battled the Death Eaters, and Sirius Black ended up being killed by Bellatrix Lestrange in the Death Chamber. Furious and grief-stricken, Harry pursued her into the Atrium, where Voldemort himself soon Apparated. Voldemort and Dumbledore then enaged in a duel, which ended with Voldemort trying to possess Harry unsuccessfully due to Harry's ability to love. Following his attempt to possess Harry, Voldemort grabbed Bellatrix and the two Disapparated, but not before Voldemort was seen by many Aurors, Ministry workers, and Cornelius Fudge himself.

Aftermath

"...you saw proof, with your own eyes, that I have been telling you the truth for a year. Lord Voldemort has returned, you have been chasing the wrong men for twelve months, and it is time you listened to sense!"
—Albus Dumbledore to Cornelius Fudge after the Battle of the Department of Mysteries[src]
Half-Blood Prince opening

Harry faces the press after the battle with Dumbledore at his side.

When Fudge walked into the Ministry of Magic Atrium after the Battle of the Department of Mysteries and saw Dumbledore, he appeared to be of half a mind to have his Aurors seize him, but he had also seen Voldemort with his own eyes. This confirmed the stories that Harry and Dumbledore had been telling the Ministry and wider wizarding world the truth for a year. Umbridge was suspended from her positions at Hogwarts, Fudge was dismissed as Minister in disgrace while Head of the Auror Office Rufus Scrimgeour took his place,[13] and Dumbledore was reinstated as Headmaster. Harry, who had so recently been insulted and slandered by the press, became the darling of newspapers like the Daily Prophet who called him "the lone voice of truth" among ridicule, while failing to mention that it was them doing the ridiculing. The Ministry also had the nerve to ask Harry to be their poster child, that is, convince the public that the Ministry was winning the war against Voldemort (which is another lie), a move both Harry and Dumbledore opposed.

Appearances

Notes and references

  1. 1.0 1.1 Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - Chapter 31 (The Third Task)
  2. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - Chapter 31 (O.W.L.S.)
  3. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - Chapter 5 (Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes)
  4. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - Chapter 32 (Flesh, Blood, and Bone)
  5. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - Chapter 33 (The Death Eaters)
  6. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - Chapter 34 (Priori Incantatem)
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - Chapter 35 (Veritaserum)
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - Chapter 36 (The Parting of the Ways)
  9. 9.0 9.1 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - Chapter 5 (The Order of the Phoenix)
  10. 10.0 10.1 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - Chapter 8 (The Hearing)
  11. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - Chapter 15 (The Hogwarts High Inquisitor)
  12. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - Chapter 14 (Percy and Padfoot)
  13. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Chapter 1 - (The Other Minister)

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