After a jury on Wednesday awarded actor Johnny Depp $15 million in his civil suit against his ex-wife Amber Heard, right-wing media figures seized on the breaking news to declare the death of the #MeToo movement and an end to public support for women who speak out about their experiences of sexual violence and domestic abuse.
In the lawsuit, Depp alleged that Heard had defamed him three times in an op-ed published by The Washington Post titled “I spoke up against sexual violence — and faced our culture’s wrath. That has to change.” In the piece, Heard wrote about her experience as a survivor and did not name Depp. (An editor’s note regarding the results of the jury trial has been added to the op-ed.)
The jury also found that Depp had defamed Heard via his lawyer on one count that was alleged in her countersuit. The six-week trial was the subject of intense media attention, especially on social media, where YouTubers and TikTokers profited from the “Justice for Johnny” movement, garnering massive views for pro-Depp content.
Although some in the media, especially writer and podcast host Michael Hobbes, tried to counter the tidal wave of pro-Depp commentary on these platforms by presenting evidence from Heard’s allegations of abuse, the right-wing noise machine remained the loudest voice in the room.
After the verdict was announced, Fox News gleefully celebrated the supposed end of the #MeToo movement. In the minutes after the news broke, anchor Martha MacCallum declared, “This puts a bit of a stake in the heart of the notion that you believe all women.”
On The Five, co-host Greg Gutfeld sniped that Heard had “used the #MeToo movement and now she’s betrayed the #MeToo movement. You can’t believe all women, is basically what this case is saying.”
On Hannity, Fox Sports’ Clay Travis declared, “That jury said, we are not #BelievingAllWomen. This is the end of #MeToo.”
Twitter abounded with right-wing media figures’ takes celebrating the judgment against Heard and what it meant to silence women.
The Blaze’s Steven Crowder:
Right-wing radio host Dana Loesch:
John McCain’s daughter, columnist Meghan McCain:
Right-wing pundit Ann Coulter:
Right-wing radio host Larry O’Connor:
Since the verdict was announced, survivors and experts have spoken to the media about the chilling effect this saga will have on freely speaking about their experiences with sexual violence and domestic abuse. I first wrote about this backlash cycle following the confirmation hearings of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh after he was accused of sexually assaulting Christine Blasey Ford. The same dynamic continues to play out today.