He admits sending a Twitter post with the phrase "f--- Haiti" and calling the possible death of 200,000 Haitians in an earthquake's aftermath a "cleanse" probably wasn't a good idea.
But Tampa shock jock Bubba the Love Sponge Clem won't budge on one idea: That all the efforts to raise money for disaster relief in Haiti are misguided and that the funds may be better spent in the United States.
"I didn't want any death and destruction, but I'm a little Haiti-ed out, I gotta say," said Clem, who first sent his Twitter post Jan. 14, making similar comments that day on his morning show, broadcast locally on WHPT-FM 102.5 (The Bone). "This seems to be a celebrity shakedown, with every Bruce Springsteen wannabe going on TV for a telethon."
By Monday, Clem released an apology on Twitter. But that didn't stop TV stations in Tampa and Miami from reporting on his words, which included suggesting Haiti develop a prostitution trade to build its economy.
Clem's criticism stands in contrast to the response by other area broadcasters, which have collected donations for relief in Haiti totaling over $250,000.
Working with almost 60 volunteers from the Red Cross, Tampa ABC affiliate WFTS-Ch. 28 raised more than $126,000 in days, asking for donations on air Tuesday and last Friday while also collecting at Westfield Mall locations across the market. The effort was part of a companywide initiative by WFTS owner E. W. Scripps Co., which raised $1.1 million at nine stations nationwide.
"Thank God the people who donated the $126,000 don't believe the way (Clem) does," said Rich Pegram, WFTS general manager. "We can't be so cynical that we sit on our hands."
At Tampa community radio station WMNF-FM 88.5, listeners have given $105,000 since a 12-hour call-in fundraiser Jan. 15, with $93,000 coming in during the first dozen hours. The proceeds will be split evenly between four relief organizations: Doctors Without Borders, Mercy Corps., Partners in Health, and pop star Wyclef Jean's Yele Haiti.
"I can't believe (Clem) said that," said Rob Lorei, news and public affairs director for WMNF. "I don't think you have to choose between caring for people here and people there — you can care about both."
Other efforts yielded similar results: WFLA-Ch. 8 raised $40,000 through a call-in telethon Jan. 15; WTSP-Ch. 10 raised $7,000 on Jan. 14; and WTVT-Ch. 13 helped Sweetbay Supermarkets raise $165,000 since Jan. 15.
The impulse goes national at 8 tonight, as all the major broadcast networks, local PBS stations and cable channels such as CNN, HBO and VH1 team up to air the two-hour Hope for Haiti global telethon. Hosted by George Clooney in Los Angeles, Wyclef Jean in New York and CNN's Anderson Cooper in Haiti, the event feature performers such as Bruce Springteen, Jay-Z and Coldplay.
Clem points to his own work donating money to the families of fallen police officers. "I think there's a lot of issues here that should have a priority," he said. "I think I'm speaking common sense; saying what a lot of people want to say."