The celebrity trial on everyone’s radar this week is The People v. Daystar Peterson, but given how aggressively hip-hop blogs have been trying to turn it into Megan Thee Stallion v. Tory Lanez, you’d be forgiven for mistaking it as such. Ever since the Grammy-winning rapper (whose legal name is Megan Pete) first accused Lanez (whose real name is Daystar Peterson) of shooting her in the foot in 2020, there’s been an obscene amount of disinformation spread by highly followed social media personalities and blog sites about the ongoing court battle. From fixating on Megan’s sex life to attempting to discredit any particular detail of her account, such bloggers have pulled out all the stops in an attempt to sensationalize this traumatic event—to devastating, reckless effect.
In February, controversial blogger and podcast host DJ Akademiks reported that the DNA of Lanez—who has pleaded not guilty to shooting Megan in the foot while yelling “dance, bitch”—had not been found on the gun used at the alleged crime scene.
“It was revealed in court few moments ago that Tory Lanez DNA WAS NOT found on the weapon in the Meg Thee Stallion case,” DJ Akademiks wrote in a now-deleted tweet to his 1.3 million followers.
But nothing had been “revealed.” Even worse: DJ Akademiks posted his tweet before the court session had even begun.
“I know some of yall blogs on payroll but please dont get sued trying to create a hate campaign. Be a real journalist and post FACTS,” Megan Thee Stallion subsequently posted when her notifications began to blow up following this blatant spread of misinformation.
“Yall got breaking news 15 minutes before court started and nobody has even been called in yet?” she continued. “Yall tryna win a social media campaign, this is my real life! Yall tryna get retweets spreading false narratives! @iamakademiks why are you lying? What did you gain?”
Instead of backing down, DJ Akademiks continued to argue that he had seen the legal documents, which have never been made public, with his “own eyes” and that they were “inconclusive in finding” Lanez’s DNA.
He’s not the only one who tried to pull a targeted fake news campaign against Megan.
In January 2021, the “Savage” rapper called out viral tweets posted by hip-hop blog FuciousTv claiming that “according to the #LosAngeles County Superior Court website, the charges against #ToryLanez in the July 2020 incident has been or dropped. The website indicates that there are no upcoming trial dates after the hearing that was held yesterday. Story developing.”
Just like with DJ Akademiks, the false information read as an attempt to once again discredit Megan and to spur Lanez’s fans into cyberbullying her.
Now, as sworn testimony got underway in court this week, more people have finally begun to notice the increased misogyny from these hip-hop bloggers “reporting” on Lanez’s trial.
The Shade Room, one of the biggest Black entertainment platforms online, has been noticeably fixated on covering the speculation about Megan’s personal behavior the night of the incident rather than the shooting itself. In one rather cringy post, the Shade Room tweeted that Megan’s former assistant Kelsey Harris, who was present during the shooting, was granted immunity “after asking” for it during her testimony, and added, “Kelsey also testified that Meg Thee Stallion was acting out & ‘drunk’ at the party before the shooting incident.”
Several users online couldn’t help but fact-check and challenge the blog site for how they characterized the procedural process of Harris’ “immunity,” as well as the tone and framing with which they shared testimony about Megan allegedly being drunk at the time of the shooting.
Meanwhile, other blogs began disseminating racy rumors about Megan’s sex life. Daily Loud, a popular online hip-hop platform, ran a viral video of Lanez’s attorney accusing Megan of having sex with his client, basketball player Ben Simmons, and rapper DaBaby—as if any of it was relevant or affected her claims of being shot. To make matters worse, Daily Loud added a stunned-face emoji alongside its caption in a lame attempt to stir the pot.
A quick search online at the shooting-related content from the likes of Vlad TV and XXL Magazine exposes a very slanted framing that lends itself to slut-shamming Megan and aggressively entertaining anything that suggests Lanez is innocent.
Such toxic media coverage has served as a mass distraction against the case at hand. Megan Thee Stallion isn’t on trial, Tory Lanez is. You would assume that a fragment of media seeking to appeal to diverse audiences, like the hip-hop space, would be more considerate and sensitive to a Black public figure like Megan. Instead, it has been the complete opposite.
What these online platforms have done is exploit her traumatic experience for traffic and engagement. For every salacious post, there’s dozens of sexist, misogynist, and downright violent insults hurled at Megan and women like her. And it’s in times like these where you’re reminded why female victims struggle to come forward in the first place.
It’s baffling that five years after the #MeToo movement and the calls to defend Black women via #SayHerName, Black women, no matter how rich or famous they are, still can’t get fair or accurate media coverage during their most traumatic experiences. For all of these hip-hop blogs to abandon a member of their industry tells us exactly how marginalizing it must feel for Black women in rap.
It would be easy to think of this as an isolated incident, but it echoes the same pattern of targeted disinformation that currently centers around another famous Meg: Meghan Markle.
When you look at how orchestrated the viral level of hate and gossip fodder has been for the Duchess of Sussex, it’s hard not to see the parallels happening between her and Megan Thee Stallion. Just like the British tabloids couldn’t stop trolling Markle, it seems that everything Megan Thee Stallion does comes with an added level of scrutiny from the hip-hop blogosphere. Aside from the misinformation of the press, the vicious attacks against these two women from online troll farms have been devastating to witness.
Let’s call a spade a spade: The hip-hop blog space is the British tabloid of Black media. They are ruthless, mean, and will seemingly do whatever it takes to get traffic. The disregard for Megan’s mental health at this time only further reveals the hypocrisy of these outlets that claim they do their work “for the culture.”
But what kind of “culture” are they serving? One that allows for toxic masculinity and misogyny to run rampant? One that immediately antagonizes women who step forward to share their traumatic experiences? Or one that reinforces insensitivity, slut-shaming, and bias toward women?
As this trial continues, it’s important for all of us to understand the difference between journalism and these unprincipled media platforms that clearly seek to defame more than inform.