ACLU: Amber Heard’s domestic abuse op-ed was timed to capitalize on ‘Aquaman’ press

Mera Aquaman
Image via DC Entertainment/Warner Bros.

A new revelation from the ongoing trial of dueling defamation lawsuits between Hollywood stars and ex-spouses, Amber Heard and Johnny Depp, is that the op-ed Heard penned at the center of it all was allegedly released to capitalize on the publicity of the Heard-starring film, Aquaman.

This new information about how the op-ed was crafted comes from the American Civil Liberties Union, the non-profit organization that helped draft the 2018 article in the Washington Post, in which Heard describes herself as a “public figure representing domestic abuse.”

Terence Dougherty, the ACLU’s general counsel and chief operating officer, testified in a pre-recorded deposition in the defamation trial, in which Depp is suing Heard for $50 million for what he alleges are false domestic abuse allegations made against him that damaged his career.

Doughtery was asked about an email from Dec. 11, 2018, from Jessica Weitz, ACLU’s director of artistic engagement, in which she details the strategy behind the timing of the op-ed in question, as Variety reports.

“The goal is to get this out this week to capitalize on the tremendous campaign for ‘Aquaman,’” wrote Weitz in the email.

At the time, Aquaman was less than two weeks away from releasing into theaters. Doughtery testified that the publicity for the James Wan-directed film would assist in getting more attention for the op-ed, with Heard also agreeing that the timing was important, he said.

“From the ACLU’s perspective, Amber is about to receive an incredible amount of press and be in the public eye […] So what better a time would it be than now to put out this op-ed, so that it generates significant readership about our issues.”

Certainly, the goal of any article is to bring in readers and, in some cases, raise awareness of the issues at hand, and making the necessary calculations to achieve that is part of the job. However, the testimony seems to imply there was something fishy about Heard’s timing.

Though Depp was not named in the op-ed, he alleges he was implied as the abuser in question in the article — a claim he denies. Heard is counter-suing Depp, also for defamation, for $100 million.

Also during Doughtery’s testimony, he claimed Heard had only fulfilled less than half of the $3.5 million she previously pledged to the organization — just $1.3 million.

As to who the letter of the law will side with at the end of this jury trial is still up in the air, but in the court of public opinion, it appears Heard is arguably on the losing side already. Amid the trial, and all its twists and turns, a petition to remove Heard from Aquaman 2 has surpassed two million signatures.