Click here to read the lawsuit (WARNING: Contains strong language)
Tampa, Florida— The phone lines at radio station 102.5 “The Bone” (WHPT FM) lit up Tuesday morning as shock jock Bubba the Love Sponge Clem bashed rival radio host Todd Schnitt of WFLZ’s MJ Morning Show.
Schnitt is suing Clem, claiming his competitor made all types of offensive statements on air about him and his wife Michelle. The radio personalities compete for listeners during the same time period Monday through Friday between the hours of 6am and 10am.
Bubba the Love Sponge spoke about the civil lawsuit filed against him from his St. Petersburg home Monday night. "I didn't say anything defamatory or slanderous like he made allegations of. Really bad stuff like touching kids or something I would never go there." “This is somebody who got his feelings hurt that's exactly what it is. He gets on the air everyday. He's a public figure.”
MJ was not available for comment Monday night. He is out of the country on vacation according to a source. There is a note posted on the website for the radio show that reads "The MJ Morning Crew is on vacation from Mach 17th - March 21st. We will return on Monday, March 24th."
But the lawsuit speaks for MJ and his wife. In it MJ accuses Bubba of calling him "a lying piece of crap", "a kid Schnitt snitch” and "one of the top four or five people behind our arrest and the trial of the hog deal." MJ also accuses Bubba of calling his wife Michelle a degrading name. Michelle Schnitt does appear on the MJ Morning Show from time to time which airs on 93.3 FM, WFLZ, which is a Clear Channel Communications station.
Rebecca Harrison Steele is the director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida. Steele represents the West Central Florida Regional Office and says "Someone who's a public figure - in order to find the defendant guilty of libel they have to show that they acted with reckless and indifference to the truth or with actual knowledge that what they were saying was false."
Steele says some speech is protected by the 1st amendment. Statements of opinion are not slanderous she says but "Well shock jock is one thing but if you actually make defamatory statements about someone that are not true and that do injure their reputation in a serious way that to me crosses over the line of 1st amendment."
Bubba the Love Sponge is no stranger to controversy he was fired by Clear Channel in February of 2004. At the time he drew the largest single indecency fine in FCC history for airing skits where cartoon characters talked about sex and drugs. Back in January of this year he promised to clean up his act when he returned to the airwaves here in Tampa and in Jacksonville. He signed a three year contract with Cox radio and can be heard on 102.5 The Bone in Tampa.
The tension may have started the day that Bubba returned to the air. In the studio a computer screened displayed the phrase “MJ sucks.” Bubba told Tampa Bay's 10 News back then “All of Tampa radio sucks. There is nothing out there and we were number 1 for 8 or 9 years and even cleaned up and user friendly we'll be far better than anything that's on. It's horrible.”
Monday night he reiterated that sentiment. “The truth hurts doesn't it? The bottom line is Arbitron just came out and I was already number 1. I went to number 1 in two and a half weeks. They're going to try to tell me the Tampa Bay wasn't hurting for something new?”
Bubba the Love Sponge “If you don't want me to talk about you then take yourself off the air.” “Let this play out in court. Let me have my day in court. I can't wait for the deposition to start. Let the games begin. I swear to God.”
“He gets on the air every day. He's a public figure. It's okay for him to put billboards of OJ and Britney Spears up and his whole show is based on TMZ.” “Unfortunately what he doesn't understand is that he and his wife are public figures. I can call them names and be outlandish and be Bubba the Love Sponge, be the people's hammer and say it like it is all I want.”
Bubba says it's true he does make fun of MJ's physical attributes. “Being short, being a midget, looking guy. He can call me fat. He can do all that but the bottom line is little MJ's feelings are hurt and so now I'm going to sue, sue, sue. Tie up the system, tie up the taxpayers dollars, tie up the court system.”
The civil suit does not spell out exactly how much money in damages MJ and Michelle are suing for but they are asking for a jury trial to settle the matter.
Tammie Fields & Beau Zimmer, Tampa Bay's 10 News