Mr. Clem Just Put A Target On My Head And Fired Away
Those were the words of Todd M.J. Schnitt, Wednesday, as he spent the entire day on the witness stand. Schnitt's accusing Bubba the Love Sponge (Todd Clem) of defamation, stemming from a Radio War the two had in Tampa five years ago. And it's certainly an odd situation. In the early morning hours, Bubba and his morning team talk about, mock, and take calls from listeners about this ongoing court case. Hours later, Bubba is sitting in a courtroom with a team of attorneys, accused of defamation by his former rival. Some in the industry believe that if Schnitt wins, this could have a ripple effect in radio, and there will be a lot less protection for on-air talent.
7AM UPDATE - SCHNITT ATTORNEY ARRESTED LAST NIGHT FOR DUI
Schnitt and Bubba once worked at the same station before competing against one another. They didn't get along then and that carried over when they started competing. Bubba would talk about Schnitt on his show, many times negatively. Schnitt says he never took the bait. It's a scenario that has taken place in many radio markets across America for many years. A Radio War.
One radio guy tries to to improve his own ratings by tearing down another radio guy. It creates a soap opera type atmosphere in a local market. Some people think that's compelling radio. In the Tampa courtroom, the trial just makes that game, and radio in general, look childish. On Wednesday, audio from Schnitt's show was played about his wife getting a tattoo called a "tramp stamp," which turned out to be a lie, called theater of the mind. Bubba's attorney's wanted to make a point that Schnitt put his personal life out there and everything was then fair game for these two very public figures. Schnitt doesn't agree.
Schnitt alleges he's been harmed by what Bubba, and Bubba's fans (called the Bubba Army), said about him (and his wife) on the air. On Wednesday, Bubba's lawyers tried to get Schnitt to explain how he's been harmed by what has happened to him. And if you watch the trial, it has been hard to figure out what the harm is. If you believe the testimony, Schnitt has certainly been harassed, by people who appear to be fans of Bubba. But he was never hurt physically and he doesn't appear to be short any money. Schnitt says his entire family was constantly being threatened via e-mail, telephone, in parking lots during events, and at their home. He also told a story about how a car going 60 mph forced him off the road as someone hung out of the vehicle yelling and screaming at him.
And, it appears, he believes those threats were being made by Bubba's fans, who were prompted to act in such a manner by what Bubba said on the air. Bubba's attorney's argued the e-mails and calls could have come from anyone, even his neighbors, because Schnitt couldn't identify anyone making threats. Schnitt also alleges that Bubba accused him of somehow fixing Arbitron ratings. Schnitt denies fixing the ratings and says just that accusation was damaging to his career. He also admitted he never heard Bubba say anything should be done to physically harm him.
We will have much more on the possible ramifications of this trial in our headlines Friday. The trial is expected to take three weeks.
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