Podcast Question of the Week – Episode 74

We’re nearing the end of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, but there are still a couple of big lingering questions. This week, we’re taking on a big “What if?” with Rita Skeeter.

Noting that Rita Skeeter was present during the entire debate in the hospital wing, if Hermione had not caught her, what actions would Rita have taken following the evening? What side of the story would she report to the wizarding world? Would she side with the Ministry, and continue to slander Dumbledore and Harry, or would she make the career-changing move to publish the story behind the return of Lord Voldemort, for top dollar sales? How would the wizarding world as a whole change from her actions?

Leave us your response below & we just might read them on the next episode of Alohomora!

  • Bill White

    I think that she would take the side that given Snape’s Questionable allegiance into account. I want to say that she would do the right thing and build issues with Fudge’s disbelief but I think she might continue down the path she later takes in OOTP but she might also take the considerations that Dumbledore is considering into her decision.

  • AccioPotassium!

    I don’t think it would matter in the long run if she was writing at this period of time. Rita Skeeter will join any side which is in the major public opinion at the time. She would have written many scandalous stories in favor of the Ministry of Magic in the beginning of the second great wizarding war. She would have many heydays writing even more radical stories about Harry Potter & Albus Dumbledore. These papers will consist of Dumbledore’s mysterious past & Harry’s many strange mental cases. However the people will grow bored with Dumbledore’s related slander stories, so she will start attacking big government over Dark Lord has returned evidence.

  • Kevin Bloomfield

    Rita Skeeter is at heart a conserative much like Fudge and accordingly would have toed the party line in regards to Voldemort returning was a hoax perpetrated by one Albus Dumbledore. She would have reported the events but in such a way that would presage the Daily Prophet’s assault against Harry in book five. Additionally, we must remember she would have seen Sirius seemingly accepted by Dumbledore and would have shouted that to the high heavens. That in my opinion would have been the most lasting damage from the failure to capture her by Hermione. Dumbledore would be more discredited and the OoTP would be slower to take form I bet as most people would think of Dumbledore as more than a harmless old man off his rocker to an aider and abetter of murderers and criminals.

  • RoseLumos

    Rita Skeeter doesn’t care about reporting the truth or about political sides. All she cares about it fame and money. If she didn’t get caught by Hermione I am sure that she would continue to write slanderous stories about Harry and Dumbledore. If she didn’t, she would be shunned from the Daily Profit since, as we see in OotP, there are other writers who only write according to Fudge’s story. It’s like what was discussed in the show: there is a choice between what is easy and what is right. It would be right to tell the truth, but it would be so much easier to do the easy thing which is to write what the public wants.

    That being said, even when Rita does get blackmailed into writing Harry’s story later in OotP, even she is skeptical about what Harry is saying. She even hints that if she had free will she would go back to writing stories about Harry being a sad but disturbed orphan. You can see that it hurts her to write something that the public will disagree with. It mirrors our current world so well. Why should a major newspaper or cable news station report about wars in foreign countries when they can report about what Miley Cyrus wears and get more views?

  • nikigryff

    I choose to believe that Rita, despite her contradictory actions in GOF, would have made the right decision if she had heard the conversation in the hospital wing. Even though she is admittedly irritating she is rather efficient when it comes to her reporting, I mean she finished Dumbledore’s 900 page book in just 4 weeks. I think because she was reporting when Voldemort first was in power, and also reported on the Death Eater trails of Bagman and Karkaroff, she would have seen how real and serious it was, much more dangerous than her airy fairy stories. I think that she would have reported the truth, and sided with Harry and Dumbledore – however part of me does think that what she reported may have been slightly exaggerated and made the affair much more sensationalised in order to attract the mega money. All in all I think Rita is slightly stereotyped in the books, and I think at times she isn’t as bad as sometimes Rowling makes out.

  • Rita would have done what’s best for Rita. Probably, breaking the story about Voldemort’s return and all the other juicy tidbits she learned during her stay on the windowsill would have taken her career to a new level and brought her much fame and fortune. Any positive effect on Harry’s reputation for believability would have been purely coincidental to her primary goal of selling the sensational details. I do think, however, that this would have caused her MUCH grief in the form of the MoM cracking down on her. She would have somehow been discredited, and possibly captured and sent to Azkaban. She was far better off having been captured by Hermione.

  • Maureen

    I absolutely think that Rita would have reported the story in a way that continued to paint Harry as an emotionally disturbed teenager. It would have been the perfect follow-up article to the one that was published on the morning of the Third Task. I don’t think that Rita is inherently on the side of the Ministry, but that she does whatever makes her life easiest, which in this case would definitely be supporting the Ministry over Harry. We know that there are strong ties between the Ministry and the Daily Prophet, and the Prophet would not have printed Harry’s story at the end of Goblet/beginning of Order. Therefore, Rita would not have written it.

    To be honest, I don’t know how much of a difference Rita writing this type of article would have made. The Daily Prophet was able to paint Harry and Dumbledore in a bad light very easily without the help of Rita Skeeter, and most of the information that she overhears is stuff that Harry and Dumbledore are trying to tell the public anyway. She would have used it to make them seem crazy, but the other reporters did that anyway.

    The only potentially big change I can see resulting from Rita reporting the hospital wing scene is the news that Dumbledore is in cahoots with Sirius, as mentioned by someone else on this thread. However, it would be very difficult for Rita to prove that she saw Dumbledore talking to Sirius, since she can’t reveal how she saw it. She might even choose to keep that particular bit of information quiet. It’s one thing to be vague about how she overheard Viktor talking to Hermione, but it would be quite another to equivocate about seeing a convicted murderer hanging out with Harry and Dumbledore.

  • PixieDragon137

    Oh Rita would jump at the opportunity to write all about what she had heard on the windowsill. But the Ministry, as we see later, has a lot of influence on what is being reported so I don’t know how much of the truth The Prophet would let Rita print. In which case Rita would write as Rita always does-stating all the facts while at the same time mocking it.

    But worst of all, she would’ve known all about Sirius being an unregistered animagus and Dumbledore protecting him. She could do a lot of damage with that information alone. The rest of the people in that room would become accessories to this crime and the Ministry would have one more reason to distrust and discredit Dumbledore and everyone else who associates with him.

  • Elvis Gaunt

    We do not know at what point Rita perched on the window sill. Even assuming that she was there from the time Harry entered the hospital wing, she does not know many details. At this point she just knows bits of disjointed information like Harry has seen Voldemort return, Cedric died, Fudge is refusing to accept the truth, Mr. Crouch died, Little Crouch had escaped Azkaban, Sirius Black is on Dumbledore’s side and Dumbledore is proceeding with his plans nonetheless etc. They don’t make a coherent story and we see that Rita’s articles are well researched (having learnt that Hagrid is a half-giant, she finds out who his mother was). Rita would have taken some time, at least a few weeks, to gather more information (on a side note, she seems to be extremely efficient at it). She needs to fill in the gaps like what happened after Harry and Cedric touched the cup, where did they go, how did Voldemort return and how are the Crouch’s connected to the incident.

    When she does report, I believe it would have all the facts but twisted in some horrible way. It would have created problems to both the Ministry as well as Dumbledore. The Ministry would have found it tough to carry forward with the everything-is-lovely stance. Even if they try to discredit her and pretend that Voldemort did not return, it would have brought more attention to the deaths of Cedric and Mr. Crouch. The wizarding public would have wanted explanation. On the other hand, the Ministry would known at least some members of the order like the Weasleys, Figg, Lupin etc and would have made it difficult for them to carry out their convert activities.

    I don’t doubt that Rita believes that Voldemort has returned at this point. The evidence is quite compelling and she has no reason to pretend that its not true like Fudge. However, how she would project Sirius is anyone’s guess. If she shows him to be a good man, that would be further embarrassment to the Ministry. If she shows him as the murderer that everyone thinks he is, this combined with the news that Dumbledore is contacting giants can be made to look like, he and Harry (in a continuation with the story that he is potentially dangerous) are moving towards the dark side.

    But what happened was Hermione interfered and prevented Rita from doing her research. She must have been burning with all those unanswered questions. Was that the reason why her interview of Harry turned out to be particularly good. She had these questions on her mind all this while and knew exactly what to ask, in spite of being given such a short notice.

  • LunasLovechild

    I feel like Ritas love for herself and her job and her earnest belief that the ministry is right would push her to continue to write in a ministry centric vein. I think she would try to stir up controversy with her spin on the severely diluted facts, but I also think that the prophet would shove her writing into the direction they wanted. It would be interesting to find out if she is in fact on the payroll at the prophet or if she is freelance. I think that would have a great deal to do with what she wrote. She would want to keep her name in a by line and I don’t think she would have any qualms about a less moral or honorable route in doing so.

  • Lord_Trolldemort

    I’ll be entirely honest with you when I say that Rita Skeeter has a great deal to gain from reporting the truth in this instance. Imagine the absolute scandal which would follow the reveal that Lord Voldemort had returned, and not only that, but the Ministry of Magic absolutely refuses to recognize that truth. I would think that any reporter worth their salt would be itching to be the first to tap at that source of information if presented. It’s not even the fact that it would be the ‘morally correct’ action to take in this situation, but more so that it would gain her the most attention out of all the choices she could make in this situation.

  • ArchdukeSeverus

    I think that Rita may report against Fudge because she wouldn’t be able to resist the temptation of criticizing the Minister of Magic, but we do have to remember that Rita only makes money if the public likes her stories. So for this reason I would be inclined to believe that she would report against Dumbledore. Also we have to remember that the ministry are really starting to lean on the prophet now, so if Rita released an article against Fudge it would not get in. We already see Fudge not allowing any articles about Cedric’s death.
    Some additional proof that Rita would report against Dumbledore is what actions and attitudes she takes in further books. She publishes a book the ‘Life and lies of Albus Dumbledore’. Also in OOTP we see her not really wanting to report from Harry’s viewpoint about the graveyard scene.
    Finally we have to remember that Rita may have a bit of a grudge against Dumbledore because he is not allowing Rita to report on the tournament.

  • HedwigsTheme

    Although publishing a story about the return of Lord Voldemort would make profit and become very popular, I do not think Rita Skeeter would go through with it. Writing that story would mean Rita would have to criticize and possible ridicule Fudge, a move so bold that it may cost Rita her career. I would not put it past Fudge to somehow get back at Rita, whether it be ending her career or publicly ridiculing her in return.

    Had Rita not been caught, I think she would be most likely to publish a “safe” story. She would have made Harry out to be mentally ill or else desperate for even more attention. Not much would have changed for Harry and Dumbledore’s reputation since they are publicly criticized within the next year anyway. The biggest plot change would be in the Quibbler article that gets published in Order of the Phoenix. Hermione wouldn’t have any leverage over Rita with which to get her to publish Harry’s redeeming article. The public support that Harry eventually got as a result of that article would not have been there, and Harry would probably fall deeper into his misunderstood, lonely state of mind that is so prevalent in book five.

  • HallowsMaster97

    Well, even if Hermione hadn’t caught Rita, I doubt she would be able to publish the story of Voldemort’s return. Fudge kept the papers quiet about Cedric and he most certainly wouldn’t allow “The Dark Lord Returns” to appear on front covers.

    Although Rita must play fair with the ministry, I don’t think she would continue to slander Harry and Dumbledore. Any knowledgeable wizard in that room would have realized that Dumbledore and Harry were telling the truth, Fudge was being stubborn and arrogant. Rita is quite clever, despite the fact that she uses her intelligence for the wrong things; she would surely see the truth in Harry’s story.

    Perhaps she could write about it with subtlety, like only stating that there was a quarrel between Dumbledore and Fudge (Rita uses this method while reporting the disagreement between Dumbledore and Scrimgeour) . This way, our favourite reporter has the public attention she craves while being cautious of the MoM.

  • Silverdoe25

    How many times have I read this and missed the subtle moment when Hermione caught Rita in the hospital wing???

  • Patricia Gurrola

    I would assume Rita was at the window sill at around the time Fudge and Mcgonagall began their argument. I could definitely see Rita wanting to get in on the details surrounding the events of the night, and sticking to Fudge. She probably would have flown over to the window sometime between Fudge entering the Hospital Wing and leaving, but she would have stayed to listen to the group. She may or may not have believed that Voldemort had returned immediately, but she would have gotten enough information to write a good article, either for or against Dumbledore.

    If Hermione hadn’t caught her, she would have left with a crucial piece of knowledge: Sirius Black was an ally to Dumbledore and vice versa. Now, seeing as Fudge had an enormous influence on the Daily Prophet in later books, I can assume Rita would have ditched a story depicting Dumbledore/Harry’s side and would have gone with the flow. Her article could have seriously damaged Dumbledores plans, and in revealing that he knew the whereabouts of Sirius Black, could have forced him to either deny the claims (lie) or acknowledge them. If he did acknowledge them, I could see him attempting to clear Sirius name by explaining the story (and by explaining Wormtail, perhaps giving more evidence to the Dark Lord’s return.) However, I could also see this as troublesome. Dumbledore could have confirmed the relationship between Sirius Black and himself, but not given further information. Even though I could see this as Dumbledore logic that I would not understand, it would have cause A LOT of problems for his credibility, even more so than we saw in OoTP.

    Another possibility is that Rita could have been a true journalist and dug deeper. She could have stuck around (or to someone) and perhaps even snuck a peak at a certain handwritten note and found herself in Grimmauld Place. If this was the case (though I doubt Rita would hold out writing for so long) i could see her begin to question her motives, once she was aware that a war was a brewing.

    I do firmly believe however that she would not have written an article that showed Dumbledore or Harry in a good light if she had flown off to the Daily Prophet that night. She likes drama, and controversy, and she knows people (not only Fudge) are going to be far more ready to get behind her if she wrote an article claiming Dumbledore was hiding a fugitive and Harry was emotionally scarred, rather than writing an article warning everyone of the Dark Lord’s return and an unavoidable war.

    P.S. I love this podcast, and I am sorry I wasn’t here since the beginning. All the hosts are wonderful, and I look forward to posting more. But alas I have a Final tomorrow so my study break is over.

  • CentaurSeeker121

    I’m extremely certain that Rita would have found a way to write an article about this no matter what. There’s even an exchange between Hermione and Harry on the bottom of page 726 of the U.S. edition where Hermione says, “If you ask me, Fudge is forcing them (the Daily Prophet) to keep quiet” to which Harry responds with, “he’ll never keep Rita quiet. Not on a story like this.”

    Also, think about the article that Mr. Weasley reads from in chapter 10 where Rita openly slanders the Ministry (and even poor Mr. Weasley himself, although she doesn’t mention his name). If Rita was there during the exchange between Dumbledore and Fudge she would have overheard that it was Crouch Jr. was the one responsible for that night’s events. She would have also remembered that Crouch Jr. was convicted alongside the Lestranges for torturing the Longbottoms and sent to Azkaban. I can see her slamming the Ministry of Magic for not having the security measures in place that would have supposedly prevented Crouch Jr.’s escape from Azkaban, but not only that, a convicted Death Eater has found his way into Hogwarts which also gives her plenty of canon fodder to make Dumbledore look bad too. And to top it all off, after Fudge leaves Rita manages to see that Dumbledore is in leagues with “evil murderer” Sirius Black, Remus Lupin (a Werewolf), Mundungus Fletcher (a thief), and Snape (the ex-Death Eater with, at least at this point, has questionable allegiances). She knows that Dumbledore is going to defy Fudge and somehow don’t have very much trouble seeing her trying to turn it into a story where Dumbledore is trying to overthrow the Ministry of Magic and take all of the power for himself and somehow manage to stick a few sentences in there about Harry, the poor, emotionally unstable, and possibly insane, teenager that he is.