Todd "M.J." Schnitt takes the stand during a defamation lawsuit against Bubba the Love Sponge Clem
Tampa, Florida -- Tampa's battle of the shock jocks returned to court Tuesday, and Todd "M.J." Schnitt, the man who brought the defamation lawsuit against his radio rival, Bubba the Love Sponge Clem, took the stand.
Schnitt looked confident, often speaking directly to the jury. He told them he was living the dream in Tampa for 14 years, but that in 2008, all of that changed as he began receiving a barrage of harassing emails and calls and personal, public confrontations.
Speaking about the emails, Schnitt said,"The subject lines I was seeing were angry, vulgar, violent, confrontational subject lines. So it just was... just a complete shift from what I'd been receiving for the previous 14 years."
Still, as a public figure on the radio, Schnitt has to show more than nastiness. His civil lawsuit claims he and his wife have been defamed. If he plans to win an award, he has to show damages.
He told jurors his reputation had been harmed.
"Yeah, I consider myself, still, a broadcaster in good standing. But um... not as good as it used to be," said Schnitt.
Before Schnitt took the stand, Bubba's radio show executive producer, Brett Hatley, essentially told jurors it was all about competition. Bubba's tactics, while perhaps offensive to some, were shtick and hyperbole, he said.
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Under questioning, Hatley said accusations of M.J. rigging contests, payola, and secret pushes by Mrs. Schnitt for prosecution in the infamous "hog incident" were ultimately unproven, but were designed to stir fans, the so-called "Bubba Army."
M.J., he said, was fair game, and Mrs. Schnitt?
"I don't think she's been harmed one bit," said Hatley.
But Schnitt said the attacks went beyond competition. His househad been vandalized and his children traumatized. His childhood dream of a life on radio had become a nightmare since Bubba moved back to Tampa.
And why wouldn't he fight back on the radio?
Schnitt says he was told by his bosses not to respond on air, as to not give Bubba further ammunition to attack M.J. and his wife Michelle.
The day's testimony left little question that life for the couple had changed in recent years.
But will the jury hold Bubba Clem directly responsible for what his fans may say or do? And even if that happens, it may be difficult to put a dollar amount on what that's worth.
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