Tampa, Florida -- Shock Jock Bubba the Love Sponge Clem took the stand Wednesday in the defamation lawsuit filed against him.
Radio DJ Todd "M.J." Schnitt is suing Bubba Clem, saying Bubba made offensive and defamatory comments about him and his wife.
Bubba on the stand
Bubba was called as the first witness by Schnitt's lawyers. After answering basic questions about the radio business and the cast of the Bubba the Love Sponge Show, Schnitt's attorneyplayed a pair of audio clips from the show.
The clips centered around Bubba calling Schnitt's wife Michelle a "whore" on the air. In the first clip, Bubba used the word twice, and both mentions were followed by laughter from the show's cast.
In the second clip, Bubba apologized for using the term -- clarifying that he didn't mean it literally -- but made it clear he wouldn't take back what he said.
Before Bubba could be asked a question about the clips, the courtroom broke for lunch with plans to return at 1:30 p.m.
During his opening statement, Schnitt's attorney worked to paint the Bubba vs. M.J.conflict as much more than a simple war of words between shock jocks.
Attorney Phil Campbell ran through a list of encounters between the Schnitts and Bubba's fans,which Bubbacalls the "Bubba Army."
Among the confrontations, the Schnitts' home was egged by people who left a note saying "Bubba Army" and their car was pelted with ice thrown from another car, Campbell said.
That created a lifestyle of fear for the Schnitt family, including their young children, which never existed before Bubba launched his radio assault on the Schnitts, he said.
Bubba's false attacks also hurt Schnitt's reputation, Campbell said -- specificallyallegations made on Bubba's show that Schnitt rigged a national radio contest andthat Mr. and Mrs. Schnitt worked to get Bubba prosecuted after a tasteless radio stunt.
Campbell argued that in the entertainment biz, reputations are worth money, and that by damaging Schnitt's reputation, Bubba damaged Schnitt's paycheck; and that's something you can sue to try to get back.
However, Campbelltold the jury he will stop short of arguing that Bubba's attacks resulted in the M.J. Morning Show being canceled a year ago.
No one argues that Bubba and others said some crude and hostile things about M.J. and his wife on the radio. Bubba and his show cast said M.J. was a liar and a thief and called his wife Michelle "a whore."
Bubba's lawyer answered back that reasonable listeners would not take comments from Bubba's cast seriously, seeing them only as entertainment instead of reputation-damaging defamation.
Attorney Greg Hearing quoted Schnitt himself from the M.J. Morning Show, when Schnitt called Bubba's radio show a "clown show."
Hearing said that remark indicates Schnittknew all along that Bubba's show was full of jokes and exaggerated comments, and even Schnitt knew not to take him seriously.
Schnitt himself played a parody song on the M.J. Morning Show jokingly suggesting his own wife "fooled around" and was unfaithful, Hearing said.
After Schnitt's attorney repeatedly said "reputation" was a key to this case, Bubba's attorney said no one will testify during the trial that Schnitt's reputation was damaged in any measurable way by comments on Bubba's show.
In fact, Hearing said the evidence will show that Schnitt's reputation in the radio business increased, as did his ratings.
Hearing also argued that M.J. and his wife made themselves public figures by both appearing often on the M.J. Morning Show.
Choosing to be a public figure instead of just a private citizen actually changes how some laws apply to you.If you're legally a public figure, other people are legally allowed to be more critical of you and those critics face fewer consequences.
You can watch the trial live on digital channel 10.2, as well as wtsp.com. You can find 10.2 on cable channels:
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Verizon FiOS: 461
Follow 10 News Reporter Grayson Kamm on twitter @graysonkamm
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