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In The Goblet of Fire - Chapter 13: "Mad-Eye Moody", Malfoy reads an article from the Daily Prophet. Now I know Rita is infamous for her exaggerated accusations, but this is a straight up lie. I mean it doesn't make any sense.

Arthur was just doing his job, granted he was covering for Moody so that the Improper Use of Magic Office couldn't get to him. But still, he charged Moody for misuse of Muggle artefacts, right? So how is that called 'embarrassing the ministry'? And in any case, if the Improper Use of Magic Office had got their hands on Moody, they would have had to modify the policemen's memories too.

So how in any way did Arthur do any wrong? Does she mean that by letting Moody go off easy, when he clearly had a record of craziness, Arthur disregarded or let down the ministry laws?

Sources from the book-

“Arthur!” she called up the staircase. “Arthur! Urgent message from the Ministry!”

Harry flattened himself against the wall as Mr. Weasley came clattering past with his robes on back-to-front and hurtled out of sight. When Harry and the others entered the kitchen, they saw Mrs. Weasley rummaging anxiously in the drawers – “I’ve got a quill here somewhere!” - and Mr. Weasley bending over the fire, talking to - Harry shut his eyes hard and opened them again to make sure that they were working properly.

Amos Diggory’s head was sitting in the middle of the flames like a large, bearded egg. It was talking very fast, completely unperturbed by the sparks flying around it and the flames licking its ears.

“… Muggle neighbors heard bangs and shouting, so they went and called those what-d’you-call-’ems - please-men. Arthur, you’ve got to get over there — ”

“Here!” said Mrs. Weasley breathlessly, pushing a piece of parchment, a bottle of ink, and a crumpled quill into Mr. Weasley’s hands.

“- it’s a real stroke of luck I heard about it,” said Mr. Diggory’s head. “I had to come into the office early to send a couple of owls, and I found the Improper Use of Magic lot all setting off — if Rita Skeeter gets hold of this one, Arthur —”

“What does Mad-Eye say happened?” asked Mr. Weasley, unscrewing the ink bottle, loading up his quill, and preparing to take notes.

Mr. Diggory’s head rolled its eyes. “Says he heard an intruder in his yard. Says he was creeping toward the house, but was ambushed by his dustbins.”

“What did the dustbins do?” asked Mr. Weasley, scribbling frantically.

“Made one hell of a noise and fired rubbish everywhere, as far as I can tell,” said Mr. Diggory.

“Apparently one of them was still rocketing around when the pleasemen turned up -”

Mr. Weasley groaned.

“And what about the intruder?”

“Arthur, you know Mad-Eye,” said Mr. Diggory’s head, rolling its eyes again. “Someone creeping into his yard in the dead of night? More likely there’s a very shell-shocked cat wandering around somewhere, covered in potato peelings. But if the Improper Use of Magic lot get their hands on Mad-Eye, he’s had it — think of his record — we’ve got to get him off on a minor charge, something in your department — what are exploding dustbins worth?”

“Might be a caution,” said Mr. Weasley, still writing very fast, his brow furrowed. “Mad-Eye didn’t use his wand? He didn’t actually attack anyone?”

“I’ll bet he leapt out of bed and started jinxing everything he could reach through the window,” said Mr. Diggory, “but they’ll have a job proving it, there aren’t any casualties.”

“All right, I’m off,” Mr. Weasley said, and he stuffed the parchment with his notes on it into his pocket and dashed out of the kitchen again.

Mr. Diggory’s head looked around at Mrs. Weasley.

“Sorry about this, Molly,” it said, more calmly, “bothering you so early and everything... but Arthur’s the only one who can get Mad-Eye off, and Mad-Eye’s supposed to be starting his new job today. Why he had to choose last night… ”

Rita Skeeter's article-

FURTHER MISTAKES AT THE MINISTRY OF MAGIC

It seems as though the Ministry of Magic’s troubles are not yet at an end, writes Rita Skeeter, Special Correspondent. Recently under fire for its poor crowd control at the Quidditch World Cup, and still unable to account for the disappearance of one of its witches, the Ministry was plunged into fresh embarrassment yesterday by the antics of Arnold Weasley, of the Misuse of Muggle Artifacts Office.” Arnold Weasley, who was charged with possession of a flying car two years ago, was yesterday involved in a tussle with several Muggle law-keepers (“policemen”) over a number of highly aggressive dustbins. Mr. Weasley appears to have rushed to the aid of “Mad-Eye” Moody, the aged ex-Auror who retired from the Ministry when no longer able to tell the difference between a handshake and attempted murder. Unsurprisingly, Mr. Weasley found, upon arrival at Mr. Moody’s heavily guarded house, that Mr. Moody had once again raised a false alarm. Mr. Weasley was forced to modify several memories before he could escape from the policemen, but refused to answer Daily Prophet questions about why he had involved the Ministry in such an undignified and potentially embarrassing scene.

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  • Related question (and possible dupe): scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/132702/…
    – fez
    Nov 28, 2022 at 13:25
  • Not really, it doesn't answer the question why Arthur was accused of embarrassing the ministry. Everyone thought Moody was hallucinating (which later we find out he was not) and had attacked the dustbins. But there was no solid evidence of it, and from the witness's (policemen) words it seemed like the dustbin had been tampered with.. so that comes under the Misuse of Muggle Artefacts office, and that means Arthur was just doing his job.
    – Qwerty
    Nov 28, 2022 at 13:34
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    Rita Skeeter is a tabloid muck-raker. Her job isn't to traffic in truth, it's to set tongues wagging with gossip. Note the language in the quote: "involving the Ministry in such an undignified and potentially embarrassing scene". Nowhere does she actually say any law or rule was broken. "involving the Ministry" could be applied to literally anything Arthur does in his job. "undignified" is another squishy term, because dignity is a subjective thing. Even the strongest claim of "potentially embarrassing" has a weasel-word built right into it. She's just slinging mud to see what sticks. Nov 28, 2022 at 13:36
  • Yeah, got your point. I did think that I was overthinking this and this was just a usual 'Rita Skeeter move' of slinging the mud, like you said. Just wanted to make sure I wasn't missing anything. Thanks for answering!
    – Qwerty
    Nov 28, 2022 at 13:44

1 Answer 1

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It's a matter of rules being "more honored in the breach than the observance" in this case.

TL/DR: Arthur did a Bad Thing that was typical of ministry workers, and gets called out because the story is still embarrassing and that's what Skeeter writes about.

Arthur was, based on his conversation with Amos Diggory, clearly trying to "get Moody off" regarding the whole scenario. If we grant everything Amos and Arthur discuss about the event is true (that the trash cans were rocketing around when the muggle police arrived, that Moody had been firing spells off in all directions, etc) Moody is likely capable of being charged with a variety of crimes beyond Arthur's department. Some of those might even involve breaches of the statute of secrecy. Arthur's statement that the dust bins "might be a caution" is another telling point. "might" here is an equivocation indicating a lack of commitment to the rest of the speaker's sentence. In this case, given what we know about other charmed muggle objects seen/interacted with by muggles (the flying car comes to mind) a "caution" is likely too minor a consequence for the severity of the incident. But as Arthur heads the department he can come in, do his thing, and let Moody off with a caution before another Ministry official could do anything more serious.

This sort of back-scratching seems to be a common thing throughout the Ministry of Magic. From Willy Widdershins getting no charges for muggle-baiting because he spied on school kids in Order of the Phoenix to Arthur getting a pile of wildly expensive Top Box seats to the Quidditch World Cup and plenty of other things besides shows the Ministry runs on favors and quid-pro-quos. Rita Skeeter is (rightly imo) calling out the ministry cover-up of the event, led by Arthur.

It's an embarrassment to the ministry both that a famous ex-auror would need to be charged with a crime of this nature, and that the Ministry would feel the need to cover it up. After all, "muggles see magic object" in the form of the flying car was "just" a 50 galleon fine. Granted strings may have been pulled there too, but precedent shows us that had Moody actually been charged his punishment would have been the equivalent to 5 weeks pay for a domestic servant. (Based on Dobby's "Dumbledore offered 10 Galleons a week and weekends off" in Order of the Phoenix. Given what we know about Dumbledore and house-elves this is likely a wildly low, minimum-wage type pay for a wizard.) Plus Moody, as an ex-auror, should be the last person to do anything like this. He's losing his marbles a bit, but it's the equivalent of a retired FBI agent hearing a raccoon in his trash cans and responding with random gunfire. It's just not the done thing.

As to why Rita writes the story... well she's a muck-raker and this case of "former hero of the Ministry commits ridiculous crime and escapes consequence-free" is exactly the type of story she seems into. It's a fun read, it makes the ministry looks bad, and it'll sell papers. The fact that this sort of quid-pro-quo goes on every day in Ministry doesn't make this instance any less heinous or entertaining.

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    First of all, wow, that was detailed and your english is awesome. I get that she is blaming Arthur for covering the whole thing up, but the words she used didn't really insinuate that.. okay I am going on a limb here I think, but what I feel is 'involving the ministry in this embarrassing scene' doesn't accurately represent the crime Arthur did. It should have been more along the lines of 'covering up this embarrassing act'. The ministry would have been 'involved' either way, even if Arthur hadn't interfered. He disgraced the ministry (strictly speaking that is) by letting Moody go easy.
    – Qwerty
    Nov 28, 2022 at 15:10
  • Unless, the embarrassing 'SCENE' she is referring to is the scene of a ministry employee letting go a law-breaker without the appropriate consequences.. but that sounds a bit stretched. Okay I am definitely overthinking this
    – Qwerty
    Nov 28, 2022 at 15:19

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