Are 'Variety' and 'Rolling Stone' Flacks for Amber Heard's PR Team?

Two articles published within minutes of each other, one at Variety and one at Rolling Stone, were surprisingly similar and favorable toward Amber Heard. Todd Spangler, who writes for Variety, posted an article called “Tik Tok Trend: Videos Ridiculing Amber Heard’s Testimony in Johnny Depp Case” at 2:08 p.m. on May 9. The same day, EJ Dickson published her article called, “Demoralizing and Demeaning: A Gross Tik Tok Trend Mocking Amber Heard is Going Viral,” at 2:32 p.m.


Dickson wrote:

The audio of Heard testifying to her abuse at the trial in Fairvax, Virginia, last week is currently going viral on TikTok, with nearly 15,000 videos using the sound. Most disturbingly, the top videos under the sound — many of which have more than 10 million views — appear to be literal reenactments of the abuse Heard describes in her testimony, with people in the videos (mostly men) seen mimicking slapping women across the face. In one of the top videos, a man dressed as Depp’s character in Pirates of the Caribbean pretends to slap a woman dressed in Heard’s courtroom attire. That video has five million views.
Most of the videos appear to be pointing out perceived inconsistencies in Heard’s testimony, particularly her claim that she “turned to look at [Depp]” after he allegedly hit her: “Don’t you have to be looking at someone in the face to be able to slap them across it?” reads the caption of the original video using the sound, a clip from the trial with 10 million videos. But the effect of watching so many of these videos is that they appear to be making light of an alleged abuse survivor’s testimony, showing staged acts of violence in the process.
Spangler wrote:
A bizarre and disturbing trend has swept across TikTok over the last several days: Dozens of posts on the short-form video service — some amassing millions of views — have used video or audio from Amber Heard’s wrenching testimony in the Johnny Depp trial, with the creators of the videos dramatically reenacting it, performing dances to it or otherwise mocking her…
According to TikTok, it has removed several such videos that use Heard’s testimony that the company says violated its anti-bullying policies and says it will continue to enforce those rules. TikTok’s Community Guidelines state in part that it prohibits “Content that disparages victims of violent tragedies.” In addition, per TikTok’s policies, “We remove expressions of abuse, including threats or degrading statements intended to mock, humiliate, embarrass, intimidate or hurt an individual.”

Related: BUSTED: People Magazine Caught Changing Defamatory Headline About Johnny Depp

These remarkably similar articles come just days after Heard hired a new PR team called Shane Communications, whose job it is to get good press for Heard. Heard reportedly fired her previous PR firm because of the “bad headlines” she was getting. The focus of the new team has been on garnering more positive press.

The current spin appears to be “Tik Tokkers are making fun of a ‘sexual abuse’ survivor and that’s outrageous and wrong.” But of course, that’s not what people are mocking. If anyone believed Heard was being truthful, no such campaign to mock her would exist. But people have watched the trial and come away feeling that Heard is not just less than truthful, but outright lying on the stand while stealing glimpses at the jury to check how she’s doing. It’s painful to watch.

Nick Rekieta from Rekieta Law has pointed out the absurdity of it.

TikTokkers have found Heard’s testimony completely unbelievable. They aren’t mocking her for being a “victim of abuse.” They are mocking her for being disingenuous, fake crying, telling stories that don’t make any sense, and claiming things that couldn’t possibly be true. Mocking liars does no harm to truth-tellers.

But this is going to be the new mantra of the #MeToo cult that is desperate to hang onto the power they’ve amassed over the last few years. They want us to “believe women” at all costs, even when they are lying. One #MeToo advocate who bombarded me with tweets today actually said that Depp could have left Heard if he was abused. This is the new pro-female line. “If a woman abuses a man, it’s his fault because he could leave.” Try saying that about a woman in a domestic violence situation and you’ll be run out of town on a rail.


Related: #MeToo On Trial: Expert Says Johnny Depp’s Career Was Devastated After WaPo Op-Ed at Heart of Defamation Lawsuit

“She could shit on his head and he had the option to move out,” said the Twitter troll. “He stayed and contributed to gaslighting her.” Hear that, ladies? If you’re being abused, just leave! And if you don’t, it’s your fault if your finger gets severed, according to the Heard defenders and #MeToo champions.

If you want to see all the documented reasons there are not to believe Amber Heard, I’ve written about it extensively, here, here, here, & here.

But let’s get back to the media. Dickson has not responded to an inquiry from PJ Media asking her if she was in communication with Shane Communications before or during the construction of her article. Spangler hasn’t responded to the same inquiry, either. Rolling Stone’s managing editor has also not responded.

David Shane was sent a press inquiry, and he too decided not to reply. We will update if any of them do respond.

Rolling Stone was recently embroiled in a “pay to play” scandal when they offered spots in their online magazine to paying writers. I didn’t misspeak — RS wanted writers to PAY them to write in their magazine. The UK Guardian reported:


Rolling Stone magazine is offering “thought leaders” the chance to write for its website if they are willing to pay $2,000 to “shape the future of culture”.

The storied magazine, which has published journalism by writers including Hunter S Thompson, Patti Smith and Tom Wolfe, approached would-be members of its new “Culture Council” by email, telling them that they had the chance to join “an invitation-only community for innovators, influencers and tastemakers”.

Emails seen by the Guardian suggest that those who pass a vetting process – and pay a $1,500 annual fee plus $500 up front – will “have the opportunity to publish original content to the Rolling Stone website”. It suggests that doing so “allows members to position themselves as thought leaders and share their expertise”.

It’s safe to say that RS doesn’t have the highest standards when it comes to journalistic excellence if they are willing to take money from “influencers” to publish their work. And don’t discount the public relations angle; PR firms have a long history of manipulating media, especially in Hollywood. Refinery 29 reports:

For as long as there have been celebrities, there have been people in charge of managing those celebrities’ misdeeds. In Hollywood, this has meant a well-oiled quid-pro-quo relationship between an army of publicists and certain media outlets. When a celebrity strayed, some publicists would use their relationship with certain reporters to quash the story, in exchange for an exclusive, or a different spin. The rise of sites like TMZ and Perez Hilton has made this job more difficult over the years, but still, not impossible.


The age of #MeToo has made it harder for these firms, because if they stick with the wrong client it could destroy their image as well. But certain PR firms or agents are willing to risk it.

Still, there will always be those willing to take on even the most guilty clients. “There’s a lot of people — and they tend to be men, but not exclusively — who kind of see themselves as gunslingers,” Mayer said. “It’s almost a point of pride if you take on someone really terrible and succeed.”

So far, Heard’s team has managed to get #IStandWithAmberHeard trending with a paltry 5,000 tweets, most of which have been takeover tweets by Johnny Depp fans. Contrarily, #AmberHeardIsaPsycopath [sic] is also trending, with over 30,000 tweets. It was enough to get a few “Support for Amber Heard Trends on Twitter” headlines, but anyone who investigated the hashtag knew there wasn’t much real support for Heard.

These latest attempts to repair Heard’s public image through the harassment of TikTok creators are transparent. The biggest tipoff to me was that two writers at notoriously Hollywood-friendly publications published almost identical articles just minutes apart. That has “press-release” written all over it. Journalists using press releases isn’t unusual; we do it here at PJ all the time. What is unusual is the same pro-Heard angle being presented in both publications. A journalist could easily have seen those TikToks and written a story about how the public is overwhelmingly rejecting Heard’s claims. But that’s not what they did. They very deliberately wrote angles painting Heard as the victim.


It should also be noted that both Variety and Rolling Stone wrote what Depp considered to be hit pieces on him over the years. He called one article in RS a “sham.”

Now it seems that Variety and Rolling Stone are helping Heard censor the public on TikTok for no good reason. Why is that? I’ve recorded some of the funniest TikToks I’ve found and reuploaded them to YouTube, Bitchute, and Rumble, in case they go missing due to Hollywood press interference.


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