While abortion and the Russia-Ukraine war have dominated headlines, Americans are more interested in Johnny Depp and Amber Heard’s scandalous defamation trial, according to new data.
The mainstream media has lost much of its power to dictate the national agenda.
Since the trial began in mid-April, articles about Depp and Heard’s post-marital courtroom drama have gotten much more social media engagement than any other news topic, Axios reported Tuesday, citing data from Newswhip.
On a per article basis, from April 4 to May 16, coverage of the Heard-Depp trial averaged 508 social media interactions, compared to 141 interactions for abortion and 91 interactions for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
- Not even news stories about tech billionaire Elon Musk, whose pending acquisition of Twitter has sparked wall-to-wall media coverage, generated as much engagement as Depp and Heard.
- In the past month, “Amber Heard” has been googled four times as often as “abortion” or “Supreme Court,” despite the high-profile threat to national abortion rights.
Depp has sued Heard, his ex-wife, for $50 million over her 2018 #MeToo insinuation that he abused her when they were married.
Heard has countersued Depp for subsequently accusing her of abusing him.
- Footage of acrimonious courtroom testimony and audio recordings have generated a slew of viral moments.
WHY PEOPLE CARE
The Depp-Heard trial may not count as front-page news at The New York Times or The Washington Post, but it has real cultural and political implications.
- The public appears to be largely siding with Depp, with #justiceforjohnnydepp hashtags garnering 10 billion views on TikTok to #justiceforamberheard’s 39 million, according to Wired.