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Mainstream media rallies to Amber Heard as Internet tide sweeps to Johnny Depp

Major media outlets have refused to legitimize almost any of the alleged discrepancies found by sleuths examining Heard's allegations
UPDATED MAY 18, 2022
How the mainstream media has portrayed Amber Heard and her legal battle with Johnny Depp
How the mainstream media has portrayed Amber Heard and her legal battle with Johnny Depp

As Johnny Depp's lawyers concluded the cross-examination of Amber Heard in the fifth week of the defamation trial, the media coverage seemed skewed to favor the actress, while the internet overwhelmingly supported her ex-husband.

One cannot deny that the mainstream media fumbled considerably while handling Heard's allegations against Depp. However, as social media continues to collect evidence in Depp's favor, the media is unabashedly doubling down on Team Heard. Major outlets have refused to legitimize almost any of the alleged discrepancies found by sleuths examining Heard's allegations.


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Of course, one cannot assume everything on the internet to be true. Despite London’s High Court finding allegations that Depp was a “wife beater” to be “substantially true,” social media has largely picked Depp's side, sending hashtags such as #JusticeForJohnnyDepp and #AmberTurd to trend heavily in the past couple of weeks. But while all the allegations presented in court must be examined ahead of a verdict, the media appears to have jumped the gun as it scrambles to cover Heard in a favorable light.

Johnny Depp and Amber Heard attend the 72nd Venice Film Festival on September 4, 2015, in Venice, Italy (Tristan Fewings/Getty Images)

Vogue columnist Raven Smith wrote an op-ed titled 'Why It’s Time to Believe Amber Heard' and chalked up the anti-Heard sentiment on the internet to "plain misogyny." In a CNN piece entitled 'Opinion: The trolling of Amber Heard sends a perilous message to women', author Jill Filipovic offered that Depp and Heard clearly had "a complicated relationship has been rendered in black and white by legions of Depp superfans who seem to find some larger life purpose in standing up for the honor of Captain Jack Sparrow -- and smearing the woman who dared accuse him of wrongdoing." She further accused Depp fans of "happily partaking in misogynist abuse online."

The Cut's Claire Lampen posited in the title of her op-ed 'Which Women Do We Choose to Believe? Amber Heard claims an extremely famous man abused her for years. Why do so many people hate her for it?' She went on to accuse Depp's fans of having "a disturbing ability to take the evidence Heard presents and flip it against her." The New York Post's Maureen Callahan took issue with Depp's "smirking" during Heard's testimony in an opinion piece titled "The unfair vilification of Amber Heard." And Guardian columnist Gaby Hinsliff wrote an essay titled '"It’s harmful and humiliating": How Amber Heard’s haters undermine the victims of domestic violence.'

Amber Heard at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 2, 2016, in New York City (Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)

It is imperative to not paint all of Depp's fans with a broad brush and assume they are wrong outright. The advent of social media, if anything, has encouraged more transparency and accountability while dealing with complex cases. There's no doubt that some hardcore fans will not believe a word of the opposition, but that doesn't mean the majority of claims floating on the internet have no basis. In fact, there are legitimate concerns about Heard's testimony after she appeared to alter her statements mid-trial.

Depp's lawyer Camille Vasquez challenged Heard's testimony during a cross examination on Tuesday, May 17. The 'Never Back Down' actress was accused of staging a photo of cocaine on a breakfast table while being grilled about her claims of alleged incidents of sexual and physical assault. The defendant was also questioned about missing charitable donations she pledged as part of her divorce settlement with Depp. Meanwhile, the court was shown footage of actor James Franco visiting her penthouse the night before she filed for divorce from her husband.

Amber Heard and Johnny Depp attend the BFI London Film Festival, at Odeon Leicester Square on October 11, 2015, in London, England (John Phillips/Getty Images for BFI)

Depp's first act of violence against Heard, as per her earlier statement, occurred in early 2012. However, in her most recent testimony, she said that Depp began beating her "around early 2013." She said she had supplied an incorrect date for Depp's first aggressive assault. Heard added that the police came to their house several times throughout their relationship and that they discussed her therapist files to see if there were any instances of physical abuse. When asked why she did not remember these specific episodes, she explained that their relationship was "violent" and "chaotic," as well as "loving" and "emotional," and that the "violence was almost normal." 

That said, while Depp may have emerged victorious in the court of public opinion, it is ultimately up to the jury to decide whose testimony in the court of law was more credible.