The Todd & Michelle Schnitt versus Bubba the Love Sponge Clem defamation trial finally got underway today in the Hillsborough County Court. Opening statements were made by attorneys for both sides and Mr Clem took the stand.
The main thrust of the questioning by Phil Campbell, attorney for the Schnitts centered around the use of the word "whore" by Mr Clem in connection with Michelle Schnitt. Mr Campbell claimed in his opening statement that this was defamation and later entered into evidence, a redacted clip from the Bubba the Love Sponge Show which was played in the court. Mr Clem maintains that the word was used to suggest that Mrs Schnitt was a media whore, seeking attention by appearing in her husbands radio show almost every day and had done so thousands of times. Mr Clem also maintained that the clip which included his use of the word whore, was used out of context and his defense team later played a much longer version of the clip.
Mr Clem has stated frequently that in his opinion Michelle Schnitt was a public figure. Prior to the filing of this defamation suit in 2008, Mrs Schnitt called into the MJ Morning show almost daily, often during the school run with their two children.
Mr Clem was also asked about radio wars and a clip was played where he stated that he would have a funeral in the street for MJ. He explained, with permission, he was copying Howard Stern who had on several occasions staged fake funerals for rival radio hosts he had beaten in the ratings. Mr Clem also mentioned that Mr Schnitt had predicted the radio war on hearing of his return to terrestrial radio, and Mr Schnitt had suggested that Mr Clem was a clown act.
Several times during his testimony, Mr Clem appeared to be frustrated when his answers were cut short by Mr Campbell who asked the Judge to instruct him to answer the question which had been asked.
According to the Tampa Bay Times, some of the other accusations leveled at Mr Clem were that he had suggested that Mr Schnitt had faked a contest.
Mr Clem maintained that this was based on evidence given to him by a listener. Again a redacted clip of the this allegation was played to the court. Later in the proceedings, the defense played the clip in its entirety.
The trial continues tomorrow