Longtime “Today” show host Savannah Guthrie disclosed that her husband, Michael Feldman, had provided consulting services to actor Johnny Depp and his legal team shortly before launching into an interview with two of Depp’s most high-profile attorneys: Benjamin Chew and Camille Vasquez.
“A quick disclosure: My husband has done consulting work for the Depp legal team, but not in connection with this interview,” Guthrie said Wednesday.
She then continued with her questions, “with that aside.”
NBC did not return a request for comment on whether Guthrie’s interview could be perceived as an ethical violation, given that she could have reason to portray her husband’s clients favorably.
Depp emerged largely victorious over ex-wife Amber Heard in the weeks-long defamation trial that concluded last week. A Virginia court ordered Heard to pay Depp more than $10 million after jurors decided she had not been truthful in describing herself as a survivor of domestic abuse in a 2018 Washington Post opinion article. Jurors also found Depp liable for one statement made by an attorney representing him, awarding Heard $2 million. The pair were married in early 2015 and filed for divorce in 2016.
Asked to “square” the jury’s split decision, Vasquez told Guthrie, “I think it’s just. The verdict is overwhelmingly positive for Johnny.”
Public opinion certainly appeared to side overwhelmingly with Depp. On social media, the volume of hashtags used in support of Depp dwarfed the volume of hashtags supporting Heard ― whose team used those metrics to accuse Depp’s side of funding an online smear campaign.
Depp’s attorneys told Guthrie the smear campaign accusation was “categorically false.”
The trial seemed to make a star out of Vasquez in particular for the aggressive tone she used to question Heard on the stand; she was promoted to partner at her law firm this week. In a statement released before Depp’s team’s multiple television appearances, Heard’s spokesperson dismissed the move as “unseemly” and “unprofessional.”
Notably, Guthrie did not provide the same disclosure about Feldman’s activities when she interviewed an attorney for Heard, Elaine Bredehoft, the day after the verdict was returned.
Feldman, a public relations consultant and former Democratic Party political adviser, co-founded the Democratic-leaning Glover Park Group consultancy firm in 2001 alongside top campaign staffers for Bill Clinton and Al Gore. A number of the company’s hires over the years came from Democratic congressional offices, according to Legistorm.
The firm completed a merger last year and was renamed Finsbury Glover Hering Global.
With his specialty in entertainment, Feldman gave an interview to The Hollywood Reporter in 2014 to explain how he decided to, in writer Tina Daunt’s words, “carve out the niche as Hollywood’s PR guy in D.C.” (He said it “all began with ‘An Inconvenient Truth,’” Gore’s documentary on climate change.)
Finsbury Glover Hering also did not respond to HuffPost’s request for comment.
In working for Depp, however, Feldman joins other former advisers to top Democrats in helping rehabilitate the troubled public images of famous men: A former top adviser to Barack Obama lent a hand in helping to advise disgraced producer Harvey Weinstein in the fall of 2017; another former Obama administration official, Christina Tchen, provided help to disgraced New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) in 2021.