Wednesday, Today aired the second part of an exclusive interview with actress Amber Heard – her first TV session after losing an explosive defamation lawsuit against her ex-husband, actor Johnny Depp. Among other revelations, the 36-year-old claimed she still “love” Depp and denied wanting to “cancel” him in her op-ed at the center of the case.
During the trial in Virginia, which ended on June 1, a jury ruled that Heard defamed Depp when The Washington Post published a 2018 op-ed under her byline describing herself as a victim of domestic violence. Depp was awarded $15 million in damages, but will only receive $10.35 million due to a state cap on punitive damages. The jury also awarded Heard $2 million in compensatory damages after finding that she was defamed by Depp’s attorney, Adam Waldman, after he accused Heard of accusing Depp of a “hoax.”
Despite winning that particular counterclaim, as well as a 2020 UK lawsuit that determined Depp abused Heard on 12 out of 14 occasions, Heard has been widely portrayed as a liar in the public eye by the legion of Depp’s passionately devoted fans on social media and her Hollywood peers since she first alleged abuse in 2016. Similarly, Guthrie seemed skeptical about the Aquaman star throughout their one-on-one, pressing her on the tapes and other evidence presented by Team Depp while conveniently ignoring much of the tapes and other evidence offered by Heard. (The UK trial admitted significantly more evidence than the Virginia one, which may help explain the different results.)
In the first half of the interview aired on Monday, the news anchor asked the actress if she had incited physical violence against Depp, asked her about the tapes which Heard said had been taken out of context and informed her that the First Amendment does protect “lies”. In the interview’s conclusion, Guthrie appeared equally cynical and unhappy with Heard’s responses, telling the actress that her “hint” at Depp in her op-ed was “unmistakable”. She also asked Heard if she warned TMZ about taking pictures of her with a bruise when she filed a restraining order against Depp in 2016. For the most part, her questioning didn’t go beyond that. information that had not already been raised during the trial. and challenged by Heard, and completely lacked insight into abuse.
It’s not the first time a television host has been insensitive about domestic violence or unaware of how survivors adapt to violent situations with their partners. (Watch Barbara Walters’ interview with Rihanna following her incident with Chris Brown or Gayle King’s interview with FKA Twigs about her allegations against Shia LaBeouf). However, viewers and reporters remain stunned that Guthrie was allowed to interview Heard in the first place.
The previous week, Guthrie revealed that her husband, Michael Feldman, had worked as counsel for Depp’s legal team during the defamation trial just before embarking on an interview with Depp’s attorneys Camille Vasquez and Benjamin Chew. The interview went viral on Twitter and drew an immediate backlash from users claiming a conflict of interest.
“The previous week, Guthrie revealed that her husband, Michael Feldman, had worked as counsel for Depp’s legal team during the defamation trial just before embarking on an interview with Depp’s attorneys Camille Vasquez and Benjamin Chew.”
“If I were Amber Heard’s publicist or PR manager, I probably wouldn’t give my client the first big interview with someone who disclosed a conflict of interest,” wrote a Twitter user.
“If Guthrie is going to keep doing these interviews, TODAY must make far greater disclaimers that Guthrie, through her husband’s consulting work, has been personally enriched by the Depp PR team,” job another one. “The blatant conflict of interest is so disrespectful to Ms. Heard.”
Journalism experts have since weighed in on the controversy in a Affairs insider reportcalling Guthrie’s decision to interview Depp’s attorneys “a bit crazy” and pointing to a “financial stake”, seeing how Feldman could be used again when Heard seeks to appeal the jury’s verdict.
Although Heard or his representatives have yet to speak about the controversy, sources in the same article say Heard and his team were both aware of Guthrie’s connection to the case and were willing to proceed with the interview. , which will end with an hour. Deadline special airing on Fridays.
While it is difficult to imagine the thought process behind the organization of this interview and its use in a subsequent editorial, it is possible that Heard, who publicly showed compassion for the jury and Depp’s supporters, wanted to show the public that she could engage in polite conversation with someone closely related to her detractors. Still, it seems odd and extremely misguided that Heard’s team would allow their client to endure Guthrie’s poor and unbiased questioning for her first major post-trial TV appearance, given how many reporters are likely chomping at the bit to land an exclusive with the actress.
Regardless of intent or knowledge Heard and her team received prior to the interview, the fact that Heard spent the majority of the session defending herself against widely publicized claims is another tragedy for the actress, whose status regarding the next Aquaman continuation remains in the air. Ultimately, the saddest part of the fiasco is how completely preventable it was.