Johnny Depp’s Fake News

Johnny Depp
Photo by Chris Kleponis/Getty Images
Matthew Belloni
May 22, 2022

Did you know that Amber Heard has litigation insurance? She does, according to two sources close to her. The actress’s homeowners policy is covering most of the cost of the $50 million trial against her ex, Johnny Depp. Defamation is actually a common area of protection for homeowners, though one prominent litigator told me it’s usually carved out for famous people, given their higher likelihood of media disputes. Heard had already spent millions of her own money fighting Depp, I’m told, before discovering in advance of the trial that she could invoke the coverage. (Her rep declined to comment.) She did, so kudos to Heard’s business manager, or her broker, or whoever inserted it into her policy, given her notoriety.

That’s a positive fact for Heard, but if you’re following this crazy trial via digital media or social platforms—and, at this point, who isn’t?—it’s unlikely that you will see it elsewhere in your feed this week, when Depp returns to the witness stand. Instead, you’ll probably be exposed to more anti-Heard memes, articles and video clips, the volume of which has been insane and well-chronicled

The content of the trial is partly the cause, of course—the salacious claims of bed-pooping and bottle-tossing, the toxic display of obscene wealth, substance abuse and entitlement. For that, we can thank judge Penney Azcarate, who, for reasons known only to her, allowed multiple cameras in the courtroom (perfect for those viral reaction shots), and has interpreted the rules of evidence so broadly as to enable a sideshow of innuendo and embarrassments that are mostly irrelevant to the specific defamation claims yet are super tabloid-friendly. Depp is using the Circuit Court of Fairfax County to re-litigate his divorce, and Azcarate is acting as if she were sitting by a pool, eagerly turning the pages of US Weekly. It’s a joke.