YouTubers say WaPo’s Taylor Lorenz falsely claimed she reached out for comment in story about Depp-Heard trial

YouTubers say WaPo’s Taylor Lorenz falsely claimed she reached out for comment in story about Depp-Heard trial

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The Washington Post’s “internet culture” journalist Taylor Lorenz is under fire for falsely claiming she had reached out to YouTubers in her story about the explosive Johnny Depp-Amber Heard trial. 

On Thursday, following the stunning conclusion of Depp’s successful defamation lawsuit against his ex-wife, Lorenz alleged the real winners were “content creators” who benefited from the courtroom frenzy with larger followings and spikes in revenue. 

“The trial offered a potential glimpse into our future media ecosystem, where content creators serve as the personalities breaking news to an increasing numbers of viewers — and, in turn, define the online narrative around major events. Those creators can also bring in major personal profits in the process,” Lorenz told readers. “In this new landscape, every big news event becomes an opportunity to amass followers, money and clout. And the Depp-Heard trial showed how the creator-driven news ecosystem can influence public opinion based on platform incentives.”

Her article cites two YouTube personalities, “LegalBytes” host Alyte Mazeika and an anonymous user named ThatUmbrellaGuy. Lorenz alleged that according to Business Insider, Mazeika “earned $5,000 in one week by pivoting the content on her YouTube channel to nonstop trial coverage and analysis.” She also claimed that ThatUmbrellaGuy “earned up to $80,000 last month, according to an estimate by social analytics firm Social Blade.”

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This combination of two separate photos shows actors Johnny Depp, left, and Amber Heard in the courtroom for closing arguments at the Fairfax County Circuit Courthouse in Fairfax, Va., on Friday, May 27, 2022. (AP Photos/Steve Helber, Pool)
(AP Photos/Steve Helber, Pool)

Included in the paragraph was a parenthetical statement reading, “Mazeika and ThatUmbrellaGuy did not respond to requests for comment.”

Both Mazeika and ThatUmbrellaGuy refuted the statement, saying Lorenz never reached out to them prior to publication of her story. 

“Um. This says I didn’t respond to requests to comment? I know I’ve gotten a lot of emails over the past two months, but I’ve just double checked for your name, @TaylorLorenz, and I see no email from you,” Mazeika called out the Washington Post columnist. “Also, I didn’t suddenly pivot. I started covering this before trial began.”

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Mazeika accused Lorenz of mischaracterizing Business Insider’s coverage of her, which she too thought was “unfair.” She later provided an update claiming Lorenz reached out to her for comment “after the piece was already published and I had to call it out.”

“This is so dumb,” Mazeika wrote. 

Lorenz appeared to acknowledge Mazeika’s public complaint, tweeting “Thanks for replying!” and that she “would love to incorporate your comments!”

Washington Post columnist Taylor Lorenz.

Washington Post columnist Taylor Lorenz.
(MSNBC)

ThatUmbrellaGuy similarly called out the Post’s article. 

“The Washington Post LIED and DID NOT contact me before including me in their story on Johnny Depp, despite reporting they did so,” the YouTuber tweeted, sharing time stamps of his tweet calling out the article and Lorenz’s email to him sent minutes later.

He later continued, “The Washington Post also FLAGRANTLY misrepresented my earnings report and needs to correct it. Social Blade says I made between $4.9k and $79.1k. They ADDED TO the highest estimate, overreporting for dramatic effect.”

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The Washington Post article appeared to have been stealth-edited, removing the claim that Lorenz had reached out to the YouTubers for comment without an editor’s note acknowledging the change. 

The Washington Post did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment. Fox News also reached out to Mazeika and ThatUmbrellaGuy for comment.  

Washington Post journalist Taylor Lorenz. 

Washington Post journalist Taylor Lorenz. 
( (Photo by Eric BARADAT / AFP) (Photo by ERIC BARADAT/AFP via Getty Images) | CNBC Television/YouTube/Screenshot)

Lorenz has long been criticized for her journalism ethics. In 2020, she repeatedly publicized the 15-year-old daughter of Trump aide Kellyanne Conway for the teen’s outspoken TikTok posts and allegedly reached out directly to the minor without her parents’ permission. 

Conway recently torched Lorenz for obsessing over her daughter, referring to her as “Peter Pan.”

In 2021, Lorenz falsely accused business tech entrepeneur Marc Andreessen of “using the r-slur,” which she admitted was an error.

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In April, she doxxed the identity of popular Twitter personality Libs of TikTok just days after she decried the online harassment of women. 

Lorenz was ridiculed for her report last month alleging Nina Jankowicz, who was set to be the executive director of the Biden administration’s so-called “Disinformation Governance Board,” was the “victim” of “right-wing attacks” as the Department of Homeland Security was putting a pause on the initiative following weeks of intense backlash. 

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