Okay, so Rita Skeeter was the worst kind of tabloid hack. She exploited a terrified 14-year-old Harry for column inches, she let her bigoted opinions damn the likes of poor Hagrid, and to top it off she wrote a 900-page tell-all hatchet job on Albus Dumbledore after he died. She wasn’t exactly a national treasure.
But if we look deep, deep, deep, deep down, surely there must have been a scrap of good in her? Maybe her journalistic ambitions got the better of her? Maybe she’d been under the Imperius Curse for decades? In an attempt to somehow find good in one of the most irredeemable of people, here are a few things about Rita that weren’t as bad as all the other things.
You know Rita Skeeter as the worst kind of tabloid journalist – devious, dirty, amoral. But here’s the thing: from an editor’s point of view, and from her readers’ point of view, Rita Skeeter was great at her job. She got the scoops, she asked the right questions, she made wizards buy papers. Did the ends justify her spying on people as an unregistered Animagus? No. But do you think wizards would enjoy her gossip any less if knew where it came from? Debatable.
Although Rita’s reveal as an unregistered Animagus was sinister and dastardly, it was, admittedly, pretty clever. Achieving Animagus status is incredibly difficult magic at the best of times – and doing it in secret even more so. Just ask James Potter and his friends. Being a beetle, an insect that is small, discreet and could fly away at a moment’s notice, was also very convenient considering Rita’s ambitions to be a journalist – it’s just a shame she didn’t use her ‘bugging’ skills for much more than idle gossip.
Okay, so Albus Dumbledore actually described it as ‘enchantingly nasty’, but still, enchanting, right?
Before finding her new target in Harry, Rita was usually writing damning reports on the Ministry of Magic. Sure, she was still being damning, but she was holding the Ministry to account, which included revealing that Bertha Jorkins had gone missing. It was probably all for her own means as usual, but highlighting the corruption of the Ministry, which gradually became dangerous during the height of Voldemort’s power, was at the very least sort-of helpful: even though most of it was exaggeration, hyperbole and lies. Still, what’s the wizard equivalent of a Pulitzer Prize?
Although this was completely to save her own neck, Rita did indeed interview Harry so he could deliver the truth about Lord Voldemort to the masses. And for The Quibbler, no less – she no doubt must have loathed writing for such a publication even more. This would be a noble moment of redemption, had she not been doing it so Hermione would not reveal her unregistered Animagus status. But at least Rita wasn’t so evil that she refused to do the right thing for the wrong reasons. Yes, the alternative was Azkaban, but still…
Say what you like about Rita Skeeter’s personality, but at least she had a groovy style! Crocodile handbags, peroxide-blonde pin curls, jewelled glasses and gold teeth – what’s not to love? At least Rita liked to be creative with her look, and think outside the fashion box. Yes, she was a terrible person, but she looked fun while being so terrible.
It wrote by itself!
Well, that’s something.
Each month Pottermore will try to defend the more… questionable characters from the Harry Potter stories. Come back next month when we make the case for Dudley Dursley.