TBO.com: Tampa Bay Online.
Monday, Feb 20, 2017

Bubba the Love Sponge, Schnitt vent, gloat over shock jock verdict

TAMPA - The trial is over but the war of words rages on. Bubba the Love Sponge Clem struck first, less than 24 hours after he won a high-profile civil trial brought on by radio rival Todd "MJ" Schnitt, who had accused Clem of defamation. "I'm sorry he got his feelings hurt," Clem said Thursday during his morning drive show on the Bubba Radio Network. "He's a little sniveling b---- who got his feelings hurt." The shock jock, who had invited reporters into his studio for the show, said his lawyers "schooled" and "out-legaled" Schnitt's. Clem also said the legal opinion that was established when the trial ended on Wednesday made it "open season" on Schnitt.
"There's a precedent that's been established," Clem said. "Verbally, you can give your opinion of this guy. Verbally, you can give your opinion of his wife. Verbally." Clem said he doesn't need to restrain his comments for fear of being sued again. "It was proved in court that my line is still OK," Clem said, who admitted his show has crossed the line the past. Clem also invited jurors to call the show, and apparently one did. The woman was referred to a Jane Doe and her voice was digitally altered to protect her identity. She said the closing argument by Clem's attorney Joseph Diaco "nailed it" for the panel. Schnitt sued in Clem in 2008, accusing the radio personality of calling Schnitt's wife, Michelle, a "whore" on air. In the lawsuit, Schnitt claimed that Clem's fans — known as Bubba's Army — also threatened and harassed the Schnitts at Clem's urging. Clem's defense was that his statements were protected because they were opinion and satire and that Schnitt was a public figure. On Wednesday, a jury exonerated Clem, saying the comments he made about the Schnitts were not defamatory and are protected under the First Amendment. Hours after Clem's show ended, Schnitt fired back by saying his lawsuit wasn't a First Amendment case, but a defamation case. "You can't make things up to injure, to defame," Schnitt said during his afternoon radio talk show, "or sway an army of followers to believe what you're saying to destroy your broadcasting career." Schnitt, who also invited reporters into his studio, spent the first hour of "The Schnitt Show" telling listeners about the trial and venting over the verdict. "It's stunning," Schnitt said of the jury's decision. "I respect the juror system, but sometimes the jurors get it wrong." Schnitt did not parody or make fun of Clem; he spent most of his show talking about how his long legal battle and Clem's remarks affected his family. He said he didn't tune in to Clem's show Thursday. "I have no intention of listening," Schnitt said. He added that his case, perceived by some to be a waste of taxpayers' money, was on solid legal ground. "The courts are there to protect our rights," Schnitt said. "The judge saw merit in this case. I'm entitled to my day in court. What would you do if your family is maligned?" Schnitt said he is in talks with his lawyers to see if he should file an appeal or request a retrial. "Any legal option is on the table," he said.

rreyes@tampatrib.com (813) 259-7920