|"Are you a wizard or not?"
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- 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."
- — The Ministry's denial of the rebirth of Lord Voldemort[src]
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. It was initiated 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.
This campaign had a highly negative effect; as the majority of the wizarding world began to believe Harry and Dumbledore over Fudge, and once Voldemort was revealed to have returned, the entire wizarding community not only lost complete trust and respect for Fudge, but also confidence in the Ministry of Magic itself; as a result, Fudge was removed from office as Minister for Magic by force.
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 D.A.D.A. teacher, later 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.
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. 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 Senior — incidents that all culminated to 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. Once there, Cedric was murdered by Lord Voldemort's servant Peter Pettigrew.
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. 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 was able to escape because of the Priori Incantatem effect between his wand and Voldemort's. As he was running, Cedric's echo asked Harry to return with his body, which Harry did.
Upon returning to Hogwarts, Harry continued to clutch Cedric's body, refusing to let go. 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. It was revealed that Bartemius Crouch Junior, Crouch Snr'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.
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 Jnr, the Dementor that accompanied him subjected Crouch to the Dementor's Kiss before he could be actually questioned by Fudge. Fudge regarded this as no loss since he had "been responsible for several deaths!" 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 (according to Rita Skeeter) had been said to be mentally unstable. 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.
Dumbledore then proceeded to give Fudge a string of suggestions to ensure the safety of the wizarding community and to defeat Lord Voldemort; Dumbledore noted that had Fudge followed these steps, he would be memorialised as one of the bravest and greatest Ministers for Magic in history, otherwise he would be looked down as the man who stepped aside to allow Voldemort a second chance to destroy both the wizarding and muggle worlds. When Fudge replied that these ideas would result in him being thrown out of office, Dumbledore replied that Fudge loved his position 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.
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."
- — Cornelius Fudge's attempts to discredit Dumbledore[src]
During the following summer, the Ministry of Magic began to make moves to discredit Dumbledore. 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.
When he appeared as Harry's witness at the disciplinary hearing of Harry Potter, Fudge told him that he considered Dumbledore's views on the Dementor attack "bilge". 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.
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. 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.
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, stating that he didn't care what happened to him as long as they don't remove him from the Chocolate Frog Cards. 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
- Hermione Granger: "Well, you'd need to read it cover to cover to pick it up, but they — um — they mention you a couple of times a week."
- Harry Potter: "But I'd have seen —"
- Hermione Granger: "Not if you've only been reading the front page, you wouldn't. I'm not talking about big articles. They just slip you in, like you're a standing joke."
- Harry Potter: "What d'you — ?"
- Hermione Granger: "It's quite nasty, actually. They're just building on Rita's stuff."
- — The Prophet's slanderous writings about Harry Potter[src]
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 boy. She also made people aware of his ability to speak Parseltongue, and claimed that he befriended creatures that scared normal wizards, such as werewolves and giants. She even reported that he flopped around on the ground, loudly complaining of pains in his scar.
Skeeter 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 Jnr, 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 "a tale worthy of Harry Potter" if someone was telling an unlikely story or "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. 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 2 August, 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.
Umbridge 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 as 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 and destroying his wand. Dumbledore was notified in time to prevent this from happening. Instead 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 stubbornly 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, Umbridge and Percy Weasley voting for conviction.
Dolores Umbridge's regime
- Dolores Umbridge: "I want you to write 'I must not tell lies'."
- Harry Potter: "How many times?"
- Dolores Umbridge: "Oh, as long it takes for the message to sink in."
- — Umbridge having Harry use the Black Quill, in an attempt to silence him[src]
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 was 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 due to Marietta Edgecombe betraying them, 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 him 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. During the first few days back at school, Harry attempted to persuade Fudge's right-hand woman, Umbridge, that Voldemort has returned, and that he had duelled the Dark Lord, to no avail. This led to Harry screaming at Umbridge, for which he was punished with detention where he had to cut words into his own hand. 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.
When the mass breakout from Azkaban occurred, Fudge blamed Sirius Black for being the mastermind instead of accepting Harry and Dumbledore's explanation, and Umbridge further enforced the suppression of the truth by preventing the teachers from speaking to students about it. Harry was further infuriated with this, as he saw the Ministry was adamant in their denial even when the mounting dangers were providing more evidence to the truth. 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.
The truth revealed
Battle of the Department of Mysteries
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.
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 hateful 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 engaged 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 only after Voldemort was seen by many Aurors, Ministry workers, and Cornelius Fudge himself.
- "...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 man for twelve months, and it is time you listened to sense!"
- — Cornelius Fudge seeing proof of Voldemort's return[src]
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 removed from her positions at Hogwarts, Fudge was dismissed as Minister in disgrace while Head of the Auror Office Rufus Scrimgeour took his place, 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. The newspapers called him "the lone voice of truth" among ridicule, while failing to mention that it was them doing the ridiculing. Fudge also had the nerve to ask Harry to be the Ministry's poster child; that is, convince the public that the Ministry was winning the war against Voldemort (which was yet another lie), a move both Harry and Dumbledore opposed, and Harry was disgusted by Fudge's shamelessness.
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (First appearance)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (film)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Mentioned only)
- Wizarding World
- LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7
Notes and references
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 31 (The Third Task)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 31 (O.W.L.s)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 5 (The Order of the Phoenix)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 15 (The Hogwarts High Inquisitor)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 4 (Number Twelve Grimmauld Place)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 36 (The Only One He Ever Feared)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 1 (The Other Minister)
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 5 (Weasley's Wizard Wheezes)
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 32 (Flesh, Blood and Bone)
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 33 (The Death Eaters)
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 34 (Priori Incantatem)
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 35 (Veritaserum)
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 36 (The Parting of the Ways)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 8 (The Hearing)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 12 (Professor Umbridge)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 13 (Detention with Dolores)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 27 (The Centaur and the Sneak)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 35 (Beyond the Veil)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 1 (Dudley Demented)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 32 (Out of the Fire)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 2 (A Peck of Owls)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 14 (Percy and Padfoot)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 11 (The Sorting Hat's New Song)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 17 (Educational Decree Number Twenty-Four)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 25 (The Beetle at Bay)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 28 (Snape's Worst Memory)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 33 (Fight and Flight)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 34 (The Department of Mysteries)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 38 (The Second War Begins)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 16 (A Very Frosty Christmas)