Journalism

Harry Potter Knew the Fake News Media Is the Enemy of the People

The 20th anniversary of the first film is an occasion to recall J.K. Rowling's inspiring political agenda.

|

This Christmas marks the 20th anniversary of the release of the first Harry Potter film, and on January 1, HBO Max will release a special, Return to Hogwarts, featuring interviews with the original cast. Noticeably absent from the reunion is Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling, who has become outspoken on gender issues and regularly expresses concern that the transgender activist movement is erasing the concept of womanhood. She is increasingly assailed by progressives, and thus it's possible that the controversy is the reason she's being left out. (Neither Rowling nor Warner Bros. have commented on the author's omission from the special.)

Rowling is not exactly a conservative: She has described her politics as center-left, and has supported both the Labour Party and the U.K. remaining part of the European Union. She is at the very least politically open-minded, however her books frequently toy with libertarian ideas—most notably in the later entries, when the incompetence, corruption, and eventual outright authoritarianism of the Ministry of Magic (the wizarding world's government bureaucracy) is on full display.

As a fan of the books and films who had not revisited them in quite some time, I had always remembered how unflatteringly Rowling portrayed the government of her fictional world. But I was surprised to rediscover another entity that is absolutely savaged in the Harry Potter universe: the mainstream media. Rewatching the films this month for the first time in years, I was particularly struck by how much fake news was printed in the pages of The Daily Prophet.

The Prophet is the main source of news for wizards and witches living in England. Owls deliver it daily to virtually all magical folk, including teenagers: Harry and his classmates receive the paper while they eat breakfast at Hogwarts. It is the wizarding world's version of the mainstream media; it is also an ever-evolving source of lies and propaganda.

In the fourth book and film, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the newspaper takes on a tabloid role. When Rita Skeeter, a star reporter for the Prophet, interviews Harry about his participation in a magical tournament, she misquotes him deliberately and sensationalizes his life and habits. She also writes articles falsely claiming that Harry and his best friend, Hermione, are in a romantic relationship.

But this is the least of The Daily Prophet's appalling failures. In the fifth book and film, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, the newspaper sides with the government, openly aiding the Ministry of Magic's efforts to paint Harry and his mentor, Hogwarts Headmaster Albus Dumbledore, as lunatics and conspiracy theorists. Harry and his friends know that the dangerous dark wizard Voldemort has returned, but the truth is inconvenient for the Ministry, and thus the media does everything it can to paint Harry as deranged. Sample headlines include, "Harry Potter: The Boy Who Lied?" and "Dumbledore: Is He Daft or Is He Dangerous?"

In the final novel, after the villain Voldemort has taken over the government and installed a puppet minister, The Daily Prophet becomes an outright fascist publication, in full support of Voldemort's tyrannical and genocidal agenda. Meanwhile, alternative media sources take up the cause of reporting actual news about Voldemort's sinister agenda and Harry's resistance to it. The Quibbler, a newspaper edited by Xenophilius Lovegood, father to Harry's friend Luna, starts out the series with a low reputation on account of some poorly sourced articles; toward the end, it's the only newspaper printing the truth about Voldemort. Indeed, in order for Harry to provide his eyewitness account of Voldemort's rise, he relies on The Quibbler to publish "Harry Potter Speaks Out At Last: The Truth About He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named and the Night I Saw Him Return."

Some of Harry's supporters also launch a pirate radio program, Potterwatch, which provides information about Voldemort's attacks on non-magical folk. Podcasts and contrarian papers are the journalistic heroes of the wizarding world; the mainstream media is, to quote one notable real-world muggle, "the enemy of the people."

Many of the stars of the Harry Potter films seem eager to reprise their roles in a potential sequel series or reboot: Here's hoping that any future Potter project both 1) involves Rowling, and 2) reflects the source material's independent outlook toward the news.

NEXT: Mindfulness Is What’s Missing From the Political Arena

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. "Noticeably absent from the reunion is Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling, who has become outspoken on gender issues and regularly expresses concern that the transgender activist movement is erasing the concept of womanhood."

    I'd love to see her debate Reason.com's official LGBTQ+ correspondent Scott Shackford. He'd explain what a terrible person she is for daring to question if balding, bearded transwomen are "real women."

    #ItsNotMansplainingWhenTheWomanIsATERF
    #BurnYourHarryPotterBooks

    1. Who's Reason Magazine's chief politruk? Its political commissar representing the will of the establishment clerisy and political class to staff and readers.

      Shackford? KMW? ENB? Sullum? Boehm? Someone else? All of them?

      1. She's only concerned about it because that's what they are doing

    2. Harry Potter Knew the Fake News Media Is the Enemy of the People

      So why didn't he Quiddich his ass on over and warn the rest of us?

      The 20th anniversary of the first film is an occasion to recall J.K. Rowling's inspiring political agenda....

      Rowling is not exactly a conservative: She has described her politics as center-left, and has supported both the Labour Party and the U.K. remaining part of the European Union. She is at the very least politically open-minded, however her books frequently toy with libertarian ideas—

      So Robby thinks Brit and Continental Euro-Socialism is inspiring ? And libertarianism is not "open-minded?"

      I think he must have used old formula Bryl-Cream and aluminum foil on his perm, it absorbed into his skull, and his brains exploded. 🙂

  2. As a fan of the books and films who had not revisited them in quite some time, I had always remembered how unflatteringly Rowling portrayed the government of her fictional world. But I was surprised to rediscover another entity that is absolutely savaged in the Harry Potter universe: the mainstream media. Rewatching the films this month for the first time in years, I was particularly struck by how much fake news was printed in the pages of The Daily Prophet.

    A good way to sell Harry Potter to insane Republicans. Feeding into people's delusions and extremist politics makes for an interesting article, I suppose. However, it will not bridge our political divides.

    1. For that, we need comments.

    2. We should all trust the media unquestionably, like good little leftists. Like sarc.

    3. So sarcasmic's takeaway from Robby's point that "another entity that is absolutely savaged in the Harry Potter universe: the mainstream media... much fake news was printed in the pages of The Daily Prophet. Is that Robby's "Feeding into people's delusions and extremist politics (for) an interesting article.

      He calls anyone who disagrees (like Robby and Rowling) "insane Republicans".

      But remember folks, sarcasmic is definitely not a far-left acolyte and a Democratic Party shill. He swears it. Just ask him. Don't you dare think it.

      1. It is actually people who believe the corporate media is lying shit weasels covering for the left that sarc takes issues with.

        I was shocked to read some of this article as Robbie disparaged Berenson for being largely right on covid and applauded him getting banned from Twitter.

      2. He reflexively accuses anyone being even remotely critical of Democrats of being an insane conservative that wants to kill all Democrats, and then pretends he is a noble man free of partisan inclinations and completely above the fray, rather than a shit weasel that lies about everything in order to carry water for leftists.

        1. The irony still being that Overt got him to admit he believes the left is worse and he still does his shtick or viral anti conservatism only attacking them. Then has the audacity to scream principles.

          1. The Trump presidency broke a lot of people, psychologically. It is really quite Pavlovian. The stimulus of Trump triggers a revulsion so strong that even when confronted with facts that the current administration and its goons are everything that Trump never was (and more) they still recoil with horror simply because Trump's name has been mentioned in the comparison.

            1. They refuse to admit they were largely wrong and tricked by media. Weak intellectuals.

              1. Stockholm Syndrome.

    4. yeah, because only in a work of fiction are the newspapers not trustworthy....

  3. Here's hoping that any future Potter project both 1) involves Rowling, and 2) reflects the source material's independent outlook toward the news.

    Reboot: Harry is transgender and Voldemort is actually Harry's therapist whom Harry only imagines to be a monster when the truth is that Voldemort is only trying to help Harry by getting him to face his fears about his sexuality.

    1. That .... I'd watch.

      1. Hogwarts is not a school for magic, it's actually the mental institution to which Harry has been consigned after his psychotic break following his killing his parents. Harry has repressed the memory of killing his parents and imagines they were killed by an evil person, when he himself is the "evil person". See, his parents were stern and overbearing people who could not accept Harry's desire to be a girl and regularly punished him by raping him. Harry idolizes his parents, believing they were correct to have punished him for his "evil" thoughts and cannot accept that his parents were the evil people. All the "magic" Harry experiences is just delusional fantasies of escaping the real world, none of it is real.

        1. Throw a script together. This can and should happen. Make sure the entire cast is black, though.

          1. Why do you hate the LatinX?

            1. Because I thought LatinX was a porn tube type of channel where you could find a cache of clips and movies of unsuspecting maids get fucked POV style for money, and it just turned out to be some woke crap.

              1. I can see that.

              2. Well done GG.

              3. Gotta give you props on that. That was funny!

                I occasionally put in search terms on porn sites like "Woke," "Feminist," "BLM," "Supremacy," and "SJW" just to see what turns up.

                Often nothing shows up in results, but what does show up is as Wolfgang put it on Laugh-In: "Veeeeeery Interesting!"

            2. Harry Potter is LatinX? Ay! Chihuahua!

        2. You could've just said it's not real without the contorted, convoluted, psychobabble back-story (though I will say it was funny reading.). It works for us smug, fedora-wearing Atheist, Secularist, Naturalist types every time. 🙂

    2. 80 million people voted for Hairy Pooter.

  4. The Daily Prophet becomes an outright fascist publication, in full support of Voldemort's tyrannical and genocidal agenda.

    Now I know where Breitbart.com got it's MO.

    1. More like Brat-fart.com

      LOL

      #SophisticatedPeopleAppreciateToiletHumor

      1. He forgot to even mention wingnut.com. is this fake shrike?

        1. Maybe his account got hacked again. 😉

    2. Everybody from CNN and the major networks to the NYT, WaPo and the Atlantic spent the last five years hysterically gaslighting everyone.

      They told us "Hands up, don’t shoot", the president’s a Russian spy, Kavanaugh ran a secret gang rape cartel, the Covington kids assaulted a vet, Trump said neo-Nazis were "fine people", MAGA madmen lynched Smollet, trans-women are real women, 1619 is real history, Trump started WW3, Jan6 was an armed insurrection, etc.

      But somehow Shrike wants us to think only Breitbart was the problem.

    3. How did you spell CNN wrong?

      1. James Earl Jones weeps.

  5. You're missing here the big story that's been obvious ever since I first heard about the books in your pages (probably via Jesse Walker, but might've been another contributor) decades ago: the obliviousness of the outer world's mainstream media within their world to the whole phenomenon! Here is this entire magick world that's been operating for generations, yet there's been no exploration at all of it by the mainstream. Which means we can never count on our reporters to ferret out the truly big stories. In fact they'd probably try to help hush it up.

    1. Wasn't that the biggest part of the allegory: that as was famously said, the history of the world is the history of the war between secret societies? That hugely powerful things are going on behind the scenes, with none of us the wiser?

      1. "The Truth Is Out There..." 🙂

        The X-Files Theme Song Intro
        https://youtu.be/qHvw59xxr5U

  6. Meanwhile, for a pre-woke alternate Harry Potter fan fiction, I recommend Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality. Too much talky-talk in some places, but generally far more rational, logical, and consistent, from beginning to end. For instance, Harry think Quidditch scoring is stupid because it encourages long long games ended by catching the ball, and none of the wizards understand how much simpler it would be to end each game by the score after a specific time instead.

    1. So it's like baseball.

      1. Naw, baseball only continues while tied, same as other sportsball games. Quidditch continues until the Golden Snitch (?) is caught, whether 5 seconds or 5 months later.

  7. If lying is the “enemy of the people”, why haven’t we criminalized it?

    We’ve criminalized far lesser offences

    1. Other places have. Totalitarian places. It is incumbent on individuals to see through the lies. Or just watch the pictures projected on the cave walls.

      1. He's always trying to undermine the 1A.

        1. And every other Amendment in The Bill of Rights and The Constitution, especially if you're Jewish or Satanist or anybody else that is not him.

          Neo-Nazis like Misek can't stand those "mongrelized" and "degenerate" documents that assert the Individual's Rights and Good over "The Common Good" of the Volk.

          1. You’ve never proven your lies about me before and I don’t expect you to start now.

            Really, why do you bother claiming what you can’t prove or denying what you have never refuted?

            My entertainment? Forget it, you’re a tiresome troll.

      2. It’s no more incumbent on people to see through lies and conspiracies than it is to deliver punishment for crime.

        If it was, why would courts need to criminalize perjury or breach of contract?

        In civilization we have laws to protect people from coercion. Why not the coercion of lying which is responsible for the establishment of corruption?

        1. Lying which harms no-one is not harmful, by definition.

          Lying which harms others is harmful, by definition.

          Making lying a crime is like making hate a crime, or conspiracy. It's just another way for prosecutors to overcharge.

          Perjury is intentionally trying to harm someone, and that ought to be the crime; far as I'm concerned, the punishment should be whatever punishment would have been for the crime. If you frame someone for murder, you should be punished for murder.

          Breach of contract is not lying. It is breach of contract. It's theft of some sort. Maybe the contract will list penalties. But it should not be a criminal charge on its own.

          1. Lying coerces people under the false authority of truth to act in the liars interest instead of their own. That harms people by taking away their agency, violating their inalienable right to the pursuit of happiness.

            You can’t quantify all harm. What are your rights worth in the open market? Yet they are protected.

            1. Who decides the truth? Do men sue women because they thought they were naturally blonde? Do women sue you for falsely claiming your dick wasn’t three inches?
              Breach of contract or lying in a criminal proceeding (perjury) =/ bullshitting about a hole in one on the par 3 that never occurred.

            2. If no harm is done, then lying has done no harm.

              Suppose you brag/lie about how fast your car runs the quarter mile. Is anyone harmed? Yet you would make it criminal.

              Now if someone bets a beer on what you say, and loses, the harm is that beer.

              Or if someone buys your car based on that claim, the harm is the sale price plus consequences.

              In both cases, the harm may be caused by the lying, but the harm itself is measurable.

              Show me a case where lying does no harm and should be criminal.

              1. That lie might put the liar on the track team ahead of a truly faster person, denying them their rightful position and harming the potential of the team.

                Or you may just fool someone to falsely award you all the tangible and emotional benefits of their friendship.

                I can refute every example you can think of for lying being harmless.

                Yes I lying is a crime.

                1. You haven't refuted squat. I repeat:

                  Show me a case where lying does no harm and should be criminal.

                  You're the jackass claiming lying itself should be criminal.

                2. Let me clarify this for your feeble brain.

                  You claim lying should be criminal even when it does no harm which in itself is criminal.

                  I say lying itself is overcharging because if it does no harm, there is no crime, and if it does harm, that harm is crime enough.

                  You keep coming up with examples where lying causes harm. This is inconsistent with your claim that lying itself should be criminal. It is consistent with your claim that all lying causes harm, but that does not explain why lying should be charged criminally in addition to the subsequent harm. There is your challenge

                  You claim you can find harm in every one of my examples. No shit sherlock. I can find harm in every single thing everybody does. Your breathing out dilutes the oxygen I breathe in from five feet away. Your orbital space station ruins my night view. Your cellular phone causes some infinitesimally small chance of cancer.

                  If you want to restrict it to lying, then kids should sue their parents for pretending there is a Santa Claus, or lying about what they are getting for Christmas or their birthday. All such stupid little white lies can cause harm in some way. Do you really think they should all be criminal?

                  Put up or shut up.

                  1. I demonstrated how not all harm can be quantified, financially or otherwise.

                    I have stated that I can demonstrate that all lying causes harm.

                    Because all lying causes harm, it should be criminalized.

                    Quantifyability is not what defines harm and should therefore not be the criteria for crime.

                    Therefore all lying should be a crime.

                    Refute that.

                    1. How is lying to your kids about Santa Claus harmful?

                      How is lying to a colleague about a surprise birthday party harmful?

                    2. Do you think that lying, coercing people to rob them of their agency doesn’t harm them?

                      Teaching that to children propagates their ignorance.

                      I someone is okay with a surprise party, rationally they won’t ask and expect you to lie. If they don’t want one and ask, who are you to coerce them into one?

                      It’s about time humans learned to get what they want without coercion.

                    3. Typical, run off with your tail between your legs.

                  2. By the way, not that you would have ever discerned it but there is one instance where lying should not be considered a crime.

                    That’s when lying is in self defence. When only lying will prevent unjust harm.

                    It is seldom the inspiration for lying.

                    1. Such as when Jews concealed their identity to avoid persecution and massacre e.g. Marrano "Christians" in Spain under the Spanish Inquisition, or Jews who changed their looks, faked Passports and identity papiers and "passed as Aryan" under Nazi occupation?

                    2. Surely, but just punishment for crime is also warranted persecution.

                      I have demonstrated that Jews religion, culture and practices advocate lying causing harm, some very serious even lethal.

                      Jews among others want to escape being punished for this but that’s no reason for us to let them.

                      You get no special privilege.

                3. ?Wat? What sort of idiot coach accepts someone at their word of how fast they are?

                  1. Why would anyone lie about how fast they can run?

            3. You get all in a huff about lying, yet in your conversations with NOY82, you deliberatedly cited The Holy Bible, a very big collection of factual untruths, logical contradictions, plus rules and moral atrocities which all violate the Individual's Rights to Life, Liberty, and Property. And it's a book whose historicity and authenticity would be classifiex as "Hearsay" if actually examined by a court of law (never mind that the court bailiff still holds out a copy for witnesses and testifiers to swear on "So help ye God.")

              By deliberately citing The Holy Bible as your authority, are you a liar too like you accuse all of your detractors of being?

              1. I’m pretty sure that I have never cited the bible as proof of truth.

                If you don’t want to prove yourself to be a bald faced liar, once again, cite the link to the comment that you allege I made.

                1. No cite.

                  As expected, you have once again demonstrated yourself to be a bald faced liar.

        2. It's the joos, right? The joos did it? It's their fault?

          1. All their fault, no, they’re just puppets of sin.

            Their religion and culture based on lies.

            The holiest Jewish prayer on the holiest Jewish day is the Kol Nidre, clearly a plan to lie with the expectation of forgiveness for the upcoming year.

            All vows, obligations, oaths, and anathemas [curses]which we may vow, or swear, or pledge, or whereby we may be bound, from this Day of Atonement until the next we do repent. May they be deemed absolved, forgiven, annulled, and void, and made of no effect: they shall not bind us nor have any power over us. The vows shall not be reckoned vows; the obligations shall not be obligations; nor the oaths be oaths.”

            1. Should Jews that are caught in a lie be sent to a camp so they can concentrate on their sin?

              1. Now you’re talking.

                1. Adolf approves your message.

                  1. He's so far up his damn 'Doxy, he can't see the humor in what you just did there! Now that's even funnier!

                    You outdid yourself here, Chumby! Very well played! 🙂

                    1. You are delusional.

              2. Jews falsely claimed holocausts of 6 million Jews all over the world 166 times since before WW1. It is a matter of fact.

                Jews are like the losers who falsely claim to have cancer on a go fund me page to extort money, power and sympathy. Wasted skin.

                http://wearswar.wordpress.com/2017/10/31/repeated-claims-of-6-million-jews-dying-decades-before-hitler-vs-ignored-soviet-death-camp-tolls/

                Just a couple of excerpts from the link Embedded within the lying holocaust jew statements are some telling perspectives

                “The Chicago Tribune on July 20, 1921 published an article headlined: “Begs America Save 6,000,000 in Russia.” This article claimed that “Russia’s 6 million Jews are facing extermination by massacre. As the famine is spreading, the counter-revolutionary movement is gaining and the Soviet’s control is waning.” The United Jewish Campaign of New York in 1926 set a fundraising goal of $6,000,000 to help the “dying” Jews of Europe. On December 29, 1931 a Montreal newspaper ran a baseless claim from Rabbi Stephen Wise that 6 million Jews faced starvation in southeastern Europe.[7]”

                ” the counter-revolutionary movement is gaining and the Soviet’s control is waning.” tells us that Jews perceived waning Jewish Bolshevik communist control of Russia to be a threat” Jews for communism, secret police and the Cold War.

                “The New York Times on May 31, 1936, published an article headlined “Americans Appeal for Jewish Refuge.” This article appealed to Great Britain to “…throw open the gates of Palestine and let in the victimized and persecuted Jews escaping from the European holocaust.””

                “ throw open the gates of Palestine and let in the victimized and persecuted Jews” tells us that 6 million Jews were waiting at the perceived “gates of Palestine” to be ushered in by the allies a full 12 years before the Middle East conflict. So much for the Arabs being the aggressors.

                1. Nuh-uh! For all the reasons I said earlier. That's all the response you rate.

                  1. That all you’ve got.

                    You can’t prove what you claim nor refute what you deny.

                    Better you say nothing.

  8. I seem to remember when a certain public figure called the mainstream media the enemy of the people that this was a dangerous undermining of trust in journalism and a palpable threat to freedom of the press.

  9. The problem is that right now, we have fake news coming from all directions.

    1. Fake news in San Fran (west), fake news in DC and NY (east), fake news in Atlanta (south) and fake news in Chicago (north). Yup. All directions.

  10. You know who else knew the Fake News Media Is the Enemy of the People?

    1. The bogeyman?

      1. Another non-entity whose existence you claim and act as if is real. You know what your own punishment is for liars, right, Misek?

        1. You actually think that my reference to “the bogeyman” is to a supposedly real entity?

          Hahaha

          1. You've referred to the Holocaust as a Satanic lie, so you must believe there is a Satan.

            1. I believe your logic is faulty.

              One needs only know that some practice satanism to refer to their actions as satanic.

              Like I said before, it’s better that you be quiet and let people think you’re stupid than open your mouth and prove it.

    2. Fat orange Trump's disgusting sleaze has oozed into your brain, how disgusting.

  11. J.K. Rowling's inspiring hate of transgender humans.

    1. Snape is good. Snape is evil. Snape is trans.

  12. The Prophet is the main source of news for wizards and witches living in England. Owls deliver it daily to virtually all magical folk, including teenagers: Harry and his classmates receive the paper while they eat breakfast at Hogwarts. It is the wizarding world's version of the mainstream media; it is also an ever-evolving source of lies and propaganda.

    Sooo...did this Fake News source from a fake fiction story series try to blame Harry Potter and Big Apothecary for the addiction epidemic to Bertie Botts' Beans?

  13. Another authors take on our enemy.

    The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one’s real and one’s declared aims, one turns as it were instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish spurting out ink.“ George Orwell

    An insincere comment is like the ink from another slimy invertebrate.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.