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YouTuber ordered to pay Cardi B $4 million in defamation dispute vows to appeal

By | Published on Friday 28 January 2022

Cardi B

The YouTuber who was this week ordered to pay Cardi B a neat $4 million in damages after being found liable for defamation has vowed to appeal the ruling. She is now spinning the whole dispute as a big old battle against the sinister Hollywood machine and a full-on mission to protect the free speech rights contained in the First Amendment of the US Constitution. Which is a lot of effort to go to just to secure the legal right to spread some lies about a rapper.

Latasha Kebe was sued by Cardi B – real name Belcalis Almanzar – over various claims that were made about the rapper in her videos on YouTube. That included that 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”.

During the court case Kebe basically admitted that she didn’t fact-check any of the allegations made about Almanzar on her YouTube channel, even when the rapper was actively denying those allegations, and even when they were being made by a guest that she suspected was lying. She also insisted that most of the allegations that featured in her videos were simply “opinions”, even though that’s not how they were usually framed in the videos themselves.

Almanzar and her legal team, meanwhile, discussed the impact that the various allegations had on the rapper’s mental health – a defamation claim needing to show damage as well as untruths. The rapper herself discussed how the widespread public speculation sparked by the rumours that were spread by Kebe made her depressed and suicidal.

The jury considering the case quickly sided with Almanzar and then awarded her $4 million in damages. Following the ruling, Kebe returned to her YouTube channel to deliver a statement in which she vowed to fight that judgement, while constructing and developing her “the Hollywood machine is attacking my First Amendment rights” narrative.

“These last four years fighting this conspiracy case have been extremely challenging”, she told her YouTube audience. “And yet I wouldn’t change a single thing about any of it. I’ve learned so much … the verdict handed down on Monday was no shock to myself, my husband or my legal team, we were prepared for this challenge from the beginning”.

“We called bluff against a machine that wanted to bully me for not wavering from my personal beliefs”, she continued. “A machine that has corporate interest to protect prostitution, drug use, promiscuity, and to glorify the violence that wreaks havoc on our society and in our neighbourhoods – and to glorify, it’s sold to our children as the ‘it factor'”.

“This machine secured an extremely prejudicial verdict against myself and my company solely off of sympathy and payola”, she claimed, “asking me to redact the real reason as to why I was reporting on the issues at hand, and succeeded in making me out to be an angry and malicious woman”.

“My platform creates news and sheds light on the issues going on in our society”, she then mused, before ramping up the drama somewhat.

“My First Amendment right poses a threat to the machine’s sole intention to mislead the public with caricatures built on violence, selling sex, and images of a denounced stereotype. My First Amendment right was painted to the public and courts as a bully, vile and malicious towards a machine that glorifies a lifestyle meant to serve as modern day genocide on our people”.

“A machine that clearly influences our children on how to kill, sell their bodies and more”, she went on. “You can’t bully someone or something that takes pride in painting our children and teaching our children to be degenerates”.

“And if you are a public figure that pushes this image and this lifestyle for likes and views and a way to make money in our society, then I and we have the duty to exercise our First Amendment right as traditional media and new age digital media analysts to say ‘no, this ain’t it'”.

“This is not defamation or invasion of privacy when these machines have pushed this lifestyle on us for profit”, she insisted. “This ain’t about $4 million, this machine never wanted my money, they wanted to shut down my company in order to protect their assets that glorify this reckless and dangerous lifestyle pushed on us and our children”.

The case, she added, was “about someone demanding that I respect and give respect to something that has never earned my respect, this is about changing the trajectory of how things have been done in Hollywood for over a century – there are no more gatekeepers, no more red tape, no more waiting to be picked and told what you have to do”.

“If we simply believe in ourselves and our God-given right to live our lives purposeful, and don’t allow our gifts to die with us, we all hold the key to change”.

“This case was meant to drain me financially … and send a message to anyone who thinks they have the right to challenge a machine that protects their corporate interests”, she stated, but – she insisted – despite this week’s ruling, that hadn’t happened. “I was supposed to be destroyed a long time ago, but it did not happen, I am still here. We are still here”.

“This is just the beginning”, she then confirmed. “I will spend as many years as I can to protect our right to voice our opinions and facts on these images that are sold and pushed on us”.

“My case will set a precedent for all future media and we intend to fight until the truth is out – there was no defamation, no invasion of privacy and suicidal thoughts, and we proved that with sufficient factual evidence … The appeal process has already started and we intend to expose every conspiracy against me, my company and my family”.

So, that’s something to look forward to.

It remains to be seen if Kebe’s attempts to position herself as a champion for the free speech rights of independent creators against the machine works. It probably won’t. Given the starting point of this dispute – and her admissions in court around fact-checking and how she was aware that lies can drive traffic and ad income – she’s not really a great frontperson for that fight, even if you believe – in the wider scheme of things – that such a fight is valid.