BY ERIC DEGGANS
Times TV/Media Critic
Cox Radio has agreed to a settlement with Todd "MJ" Schnitt, the Tampa radio personality who has filed a defamation lawsuit against the shock jock star of Cox-owned WHPT-FM, Bubba the Love Sponge Clem.
The company agreed to the settlement Friday, before jury selection would begin this week on the lawsuit, in which Schnitt has accused Clem of "false, highly offensive and defamatory statements" about him and his wife Michelle as competition heated up between the two on morning radio.
Cox and Schnitt also agreed to keep the terms confidential, declining to say if money changed hands or legal fees were paid.
But Keith Lawless, Tampa market manager for Cox Radio, said the settlement doesn't indicate a lack of support for Clem's position, noting that Cox's attorney is now helping Clem's lawyers through the trial.
"(The settlement) was a business decision, but in no way reflects that we are not in support of Bubba," said Lawless, who added that he is attending the trial to support Clem and plans to attend as much of the proceedings as possible. "It's not such a bad thing that all our focus is now on defending Bubba."
Jury selection continues today in the trial, which is expected to last up to three weeks.