12

In Goblet of Fire, we see the Daily Prophet has no problem criticizing the Ministry:

"I knew it,” said Mr. Weasley heavily. “Ministry blunders . . . culprits not apprehended . . . lax security . . . Dark wizards running unchecked . . . national disgrace . . . Who wrote this? Ah . . . of course . . . Rita Skeeter.” “That woman’s got it in for the Ministry of Magic!” said Percy furiously. “Last week she was saying we’re wasting our time quibbling about cauldron thickness, when we should be stamping out vampires! As if it wasn’t specifically stated in paragraph twelve of the Guidelines for the Treatment of Non-Wizard Part-Humans —”

But in the later books, The Prophet becomes the de-facto mouthpiece for the Ministry. When, why and how did that change happen?

(Please don't answer that The Ministry placed pressure in The Prophet, because at one point it didn't work and the Prophet had no problem publishing controversial truths. So something else must have changed.)

11

There's no canon answer that I'm aware of, but there is evidence in the books from the last part of Prisoner of Azkaban and running through Goblet of Fire that "when" is after the end of the Tri-Wizard Tournament and "why" is "because their agendas happened to coincide".

At the end of PoA, we see Minister Fudge dismiss the claims of Sirius's innocence as Harry & co being confunded. This has the effect of placing Harry on the wrong side of the Ministry, since later books make it clear that Fudge is paranoid about keeping his position and thinks of Harry as part of a plot by Dumbledore to usurp the Ministry.

Then, in Goblet of Fire, Rita Skeeter is shown as eager to muck-rake about anyone with any kind of power or celebrity. If there's no controversy, she seems to be happy to create one. When Harry's name comes out of the Goblet of Fire, there's an instant controversy, and even better, one that involves a notoriously publicity-shy celebrity.

Throughout the book, Skeeter continues to trash Harry's reputation, making him out to be a mentally unstable liar - and her readers love it (this is not explicitly stated, but if the Daily Prophet readership didn't accept and enjoy her character assassination, there would be threats to drop subscriptions and/or advertising, which would cause the editor to at minimum force her to tone down her articles).

At the end of Goblet of Fire, with Fudge refusing to believe that Voldemort could have returned, Harry realizes that Fudge believes Skeeter's muck-raking. ("You've been reading Rita Skeeter"). By this point, Skeeter has a significant percentage of British witches and wizards convinced that Harry is delusional at best, and the Daily Prophet is presumably still selling lots of copies, so the Ministry officially taking the same position is happy coincidence.

Of course, once the unholy alliance of Prophet and Ministry gets going, I suspect Senior Undersecretary Umbridge (the most likely culprit) would make sure to get some blackmail on the Prophet and prominent staff members, ensuring that the Prophet continued to speak in support of the Ministry.

None of this is explicitly canon, but it's implied by events in Goblet of Fire and Order of the Phoenix.

  • 3
    This is a nice answer but as you allude to some events in the books it would be good to edit in some of the quotes you are talking about if possible. – TheLethalCarrot Nov 14 at 13:01
  • 5
    @TheLethalCarrot - I don't have access to the books at present. Anyone who wants to edit them in is welcome to do so. Otherwise I'll try to get to them later. – Kate Paulk Nov 14 at 15:54

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