An attempt by journalists to discredit Johnny Depp’s legal victory over Amber Heard by calling it “misogyny” is why readers are losing faith in legacy journalism, writes Jack Houghton.
Media outlets claiming ‘misogyny’ is the reason Johnny Depp prevailed over his ex-wife Amber Heard in US court have lost their readers’ trust.
You don’t have to look far to find video clips of the defamation lawsuit on social media platforms.
There were countless dramatic moments when Heard was cross-examined by now-famous attorney Camille Vasquez, giving millions around the world an answer to the only question that mattered.
Was Amber Heard believable?
If the court of public opinion could propose an edict, the answer was clearly no.
One only had to follow the hashtags on TikTok to see that the #JusticeForJohnnyDepp content had been viewed more than 15 billion times throughout the trial while the #IStandWithAmberHeard clips had attracted 8.2 million.
But on some mainstream outlets, editorial support has clearly swung in Heard’s favor.
One of the most nauseating articles was published by The Guardian.
Instead of analyzing the evidence as presented in court, author Moira Donegan refused to accept that Heard lied.
This is despite the jury’s finding that Heard not only lied, but acted maliciously when she intentionally spread those lies.
“The #MeToo backlash has been ongoing for a long time. But it feels like a tipping point.
“The strange, illogical and unjust decision has the effect of sanctioning Depp’s alleged abuse of Heard and punishing Heard for speaking out about it.”
Activists operating under the guise of objective spectators are shocked by what this means for their cause.
They don’t care about Heard, the fact that she is facing bankruptcy or the comments her young daughter might read online.
They care that their cause has taken a hit.
And that gets to the very heart of the problem with the #MeToo movement.
Individual cases of sexual or physical violence should not be confused with others.
Each claim must be assessed in isolation. Many are true and many are not.
That’s why we have courts.
Instead, many media outlets want us to view the cases as collectivized examples of cultural trends.
The problem with this narrative is that when a court finds a woman lied about her experience, #MeToo activists struggle to separate that notion from their reality.
Or, as The Guardian put it, when a decision goes against one woman, all women are targeted by “vitriol”.
“While most of the vitriol is theoretically directed at Heard, it’s hard to shake off the feeling that he’s really aimed at all women – and especially those of us who have spoken out against gender abuse and sexual abuse. sexual violence at the height of the #MeToo movement.
“We are in a moment of virulent anti-feminist backlash, and the modest gains that have been made in this time are being retracted with a joyous display of victim blaming on a grand scale.
“A woman has been turned into a symbol of a movement that many view with fear and hatred, and she is being punished for this movement. In this way, Heard is still in an abusive relationship. But now it’s not just with Depp, but with the whole country. »
Depp and Heard clearly had a horrible and toxic relationship and he certainly wasn’t blameless, but to portray this lawsuit as an attack on all women is just plain nonsense.
The jury was asked to determine whether the specific comments in Heard’s editorial were defamatory and whether Heard acted maliciously.
It is not fair to claim that investigating these serious allegations in civil court amounts to an attack on all women.
Remember, Heard was also successful in arguing that Depp’s former attorney’s comments damaged his reputation, which is hardly a verdict a cabal of sexist jurors would return.
And that leads to the next, more bizarre argument that these activist journalists make.
“(The outcome) will have a devastating effect on survivors, who will be silenced now, knowing they cannot speak out about their violent experiences at the hands of men without the threat of a ruinous libel suit.
“In this sense, women’s speech has become much less free.”
And Heard was quick to jump on the free speech bandwagon.
“I’m sad to have lost this case, but I’m even sadder to have lost the right I had as an American to speak freely and openly,” she wrote on an Instagram post that prevented users from commenting.
Yes, Amber Heard is now concerned about freedom of expression, even if she has just successfully sued Johnny Depp for defamation.
It’s these kinds of inconsistencies that make Heard’s words hard to swallow and his testimonial videos prone to go viral.
However, we must be careful not to draw sweeping cultural conclusions from the conduct of a dishonest person.
Likewise, as journalists, we must remain skeptical before publishing life-destroying allegations with limited evidence.
Jack Houghton is host of The Media Show and tonight at 8pm he will tackle this question and the biggest media stories of the week. Watch live or on demand on Foxtel or Sky News on Flash.
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