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Cardi B wins defamation case against YouTuber

By | Published on Tuesday 25 January 2022

Cardi B

Cardi B has won her defamation action against YouTuber Latasha Kebe. This isn’t surprising given that Kebe basically admitted in court that she didn’t fact check the allegations she made against the rapper and that she suspected the woman behind many of those claims was a liar. She posted all those allegations anyway, she admitted, because they generated traffic to her YouTube channel and therefore revenue.

Cardi B – real name Belcalis Almanzar – sued Kebe back in March 2019 in relation to various videos the YouTuber posted to her unWinewithTashaK channel which, the rapper claimed, included defamatory statements. Among other things, Kebe said Almanzar “was a prostitute … was a user of cocaine … had and still has herpes … had and still has HPV … engaged in a debasing act with a beer bottle and … committed infidelity”.

When fighting efforts by Almanzar to get a summary judgement in her favour, Kebe successfully argued that there was a “genuine dispute of material fact” as to whether the allegations she had made about the rapper were, in fact, “false and defamatory”. That was in part due to comments previously made by Almanzar herself that possibly suggested some of the claims were true.

The YouTuber’s lawyers again presented that argument once the case was before a jury this month, with one legal rep noting in her concluding statement last week that “the plaintiff has built her entire career using the persona of an extremely promiscuous person”.

Kebe’s team also stressed that other women had made allegations against Almanzar – including that the rapper had herpes – before their client talked about such things on her YouTube channel. Plus the YouTuber, they added, had investigated the claims, believed them to be true, and hadn’t acted with malice when sharing the allegations with her YouTube audience.

According to Law360, Kebe’s legal rep also questioned the extent to which rumours spread by the YouTuber had really impacted on Almanzar’s mental health. That followed testimony from Almanzar herself, in which she said that widespread speculation about her life and health fuelled by Kebe’s allegations had made her depressed and suicidal.

However, Kebe herself admitted in court that she didn’t seek to confirm rumours about the rapper before publishing them, and that she would make claims about the rapper in her videos even when presented with evidence that disputed those claims, because doing so drove up views and therefore advertising revenue.

And although in court Kebe basically admitted that she wasn’t in the business of fact-checking – and that her claims about Almanzar were usually opinions not facts – that’s not what she told her audience on YouTube. Indeed, the rapper’s team noted how Kebe had once declared “my word is a fact” on her channel.

Summing up last week, Almanzar’s legal rep told the jury, again according to Law360: “For years the defendants have knowingly and intentionally published defamatory statements for profit and to torture [Cardi B] out of spite. While Latasha calls herself a journalist, she admitted that she frequently tells viewers lies about various issues, including about whether she has receipts to back up her stories.”

Referencing one video where Kebe admitted that another woman who had made allegations against Almanzar was liable of “straight fucking defamation”, the rapper’s attorney went on: “Excuse my language, [this] is straight fucking defamation. All the posts and videos are still up. That’s the epitome of actual malice. She thinks my client should have left it alone. Until when? Until Cardi killed herself? Until she left her children motherless?”

“If this isn’t defamation, it doesn’t exist”, the rapper’s lawyer concluded. And the jury hearing the case yesterday concurred with that viewpoint.

Jurors have already awarded the rapper $1 million in general damages as well as $250,000 in medical expenses. They will now return to court later today to consider additional punitive damages and legal costs, which could significantly increase the total damages due.