Who or what is Bubba the Love Sponge?
In short, he’s a radio DJ and shock jock based in Tampa, Florida. But perhaps the more pressing question on many people’s minds these days is what, exactly, his deal is — given his recent appearance in national headlines thanks to a viral series of old interviews he conducted with Fox News personality Tucker Carlson.
The answer to this question involves a wide-ranging, 33-year journey from the hinterlands of the small-town Midwest to seedy Tampa dive bars to the world of professional wrestling, along a lucrative path lined with famous media personalities, near-constant feuding, and not one but two major media scandals — including the one that brought down Gawker.
If that sounds like a lot, it is. Bubba the Love Sponge has led a full life, and there’s much to, er, absorb.
But let’s start with why you’ve been hearing so much about a dude called Bubba the Love Sponge — a.k.a. Bubba Clem — to begin with.
Bubba the Love Sponge’s longtime friendship with Tucker Carlson has had sudden new consequences
The turbulence of America’s current political landscape has made it de rigueur to dig into a public figure’s past in search of damning comments they made many years or even decades ago. Journalist Sarah Jeong, film director James Gunn, and comedian Kevin Hart are all recent examples of public figures coming under fire (though not always justifiably) for old tweets and statements.
Now it’s happened again as racist and misogynistic comments made by Fox News host Tucker Carlson have resurfaced and caused major public backlash. Advertisers have backed away from Carlson’s show even as Fox News stands behind him, and debate has ensued over Carlton’s worthiness to serve as a national political commentator.
On March 10 and 11, Media Matters published a litany of comments Carlson made between 2006 and 2011. The phone calls were part of Carlson’s regular weekly call-in appearances on Clem’s popular Tampa radio show The Bubba the Love Sponge Show, which came during the period of Carlson’s gradual transition from a low-rated MSNBC pundit to a contributor and occasional host at Fox News. (Carlson became a marquee name at the network in 2013 when he began co-hosting Fox & Friends; his current show, Tucker Carlson Tonight, debuted in 2016.) The comments spanned pages of transcripts and drew public outcry on social media.
The topics covered by Clem and Carlson were wide-ranging discussions of politics and the news of the day. They resulted in a long list of offensive remarks, such as Carlson’s description of Iraqi citizens as “semiliterate primitive monkeys” who “don’t use toilet paper or forks.” Carlson also called women “extremely primitive,” expressed fears that his teenage daughter might be pressured into becoming “a fake lesbian,” argued that Barack Obama never would have succeeded in national politics if he weren’t black, and suggested that a person making an accusation of rape has “the protection of anonymity,” while the “accused, whether he’s guilty or not, has his life destroyed.”
Carlson also downplayed the serious nature of statutory rape while attempting to argue that the behavior of Warren Jeffs, the former head of the FLDS Church, was not as worrisome as other sexual abuse. Jeffs promoted systemic child sexual abuse during his tenure, as well as keeping as many as 80 wives, many of whom were underage. He was sentenced to life in prison in 2011, in part for marrying a child who was 12 or possibly younger. At the time of Carlson’s comments about Jeffs in 2009, Jeffs stood indicted on two counts of facilitating rape. Carlson said on air that if he had his way, “Warren Jeffs would be out on the street,” and that “arranging a marriage between a 16-year-old and a 27-year-old is not the same as pulling a stranger off the street and raping her. That’s bullshit.”
Throughout the transcripts, Clem and his co-host alternately encouraged or argued with Carlson. But Clem was notably enthusiastic in his responses, at one point agreeing with Carlson that Michelle Obama was too hard-edged and that “they need to whiten her up a little bit.” He also, while imitating ignorant racist callers, dropped a racial slur himself, and commented that a 13-year-old boy who had been repeatedly raped by an adult should “get, like, a Nobel Peace Prize” for his sexual prowess.
Given that Bubba Clem is a shock jock, trading in deliberately provocative and offensive content, some might argue that his and Carlson’s comments are best disregarded and forgotten. Clem has responded to the controversy over Carlson’s past comments by brushing off the outrage and noting, “Remember, this was my show, it wasn’t Crossfire with James Carville.” (Neither Carlson nor Clem immediately responded to a Vox request for comment.)
But Clem’s own past statements are difficult to dismiss or overlook — especially since this isn’t the first time he’s played an unexpected role in a major media scandal.
Bubba the Love Sponge is a veteran of shock radio with a long history of courting controversy
Clem is a 52-year-old DJ originally hailing from small-town Indiana. He started working in radio as a college student, gaining his “Love Sponge” moniker early on (reportedly because of his appeal to women), and progressed from his local college radio station to a string of jobs at radio stations throughout the Midwest. Clem weathered the vicissitudes of a changing media landscape in the ’80s and gradually gained more and more prominence as a DJ, until he finally landed at the Tampa radio station WFLZ in 1992, where he quickly established himself as a raunchy and irreverent local fave.
During this period, Clem — who officially changed his first name from Todd to “Bubba” in 1999 — became a well-known shock jock, with a local morning show and a syndicated national show through Clear Channel, and later an uncensored show on Sirius. During the 2010s, he moved between terrestrial and internet radio programs. He was also an entrepreneur; a 2018 profile in the Tampa Bay Times notes an impressive litany of “Bubba” ventures and merchandise that once paid lucrative dividends for Clem: “Bubba’s Beach Club, Bubba’s Ale House and Planet Bubba. You could buy a pager from Air Bubba Beepers or ride in a Love Sponge Limo. He sold Bubba Army T-shirts and tickets to Bubbapalooza.”
He also formed a rap group. Here’s one of their videos:
Clem’s career simultaneously featured a long parade of drama: He’s known for frequent on-air and off-air feuds with a number of public figures, guests, friends, foes, and other radio hosts, which have led to a number of lawsuits, and has frequently landed in hot water for ribald and inflammatory speech. He was kicked off Clear Channel in 2004 after the Federal Communications Commission fined the network for a series of violations on Clem’s radio show, most of which involved sexually explicit jokes. He routinely uses homophobic slurs and once threatened to “deep fat fry” the Quran.
This propensity toward offending listeners and advertisers has contributed to Clem continually shifting programs, shows, and stations over the years, while battling the FCC and relying on fans to follow him and drive his success.
In 2002, Clem and a producer stood trial for animal cruelty after they castrated and slaughtered a wild boar on Clem’s morning show. The animal was also allegedly abused before it was killed. Clem and the producer were acquitted after a jury found there wasn’t enough evidence to convict.
Clem was also sued in 2006 by a woman who claimed he held her down while encouraging another woman to rape her with a sex toy on live radio. The suit reportedly stated that Clem threatened to remove her from the studio if she did not comply, and the woman said she was physically injured during the incident. The suit was ultimately “voluntarily dismissed with prejudice” in 2008, a legal term that usually indicates that a case has been settled out of court.
Despite all this drama, or perhaps because of it, Clem has cultivated a staunch national fan base known as the Bubba Army. He has also enjoyed the friendship of celebrities like shock jock royalty Howard Stern, Fox News host Carlson, and Hulk Hogan, who came to know Clem through Clem’s affiliation with the wrestling community. (Clem is known for popularizing wrestling lingo in his DJ-speak, and briefly worked as a backstage interviewer for a wrestling promoter beginning in 2010.)
Clem and Hogan were at one time so close that Hogan was the best man at Clem’s 2007 wedding to his now-ex-wife, Heather Cole. And in fact, the Clems and Hogan would soon become involved in one of the largest media scandals of the modern era.
Bubba the Love Sponge, Hulk Hogan, and Gawker
You may recall that in 2012, a grainy sex tape featuring Hulk Hogan — and allegedly filmed without his permission — surfaced and spread through the adult entertainment industry. It was eventually seen by more mainstream audiences after the celebrity and media gossip website Gawker published an excerpt. The site published 60 seconds of the 30-minute tape and reported that it featured Heather Clem (now Heather Cole), who at the time was married to Hogan’s then-best friend Bubba.
The rest is media history.
Hogan went on to sue Gawker, in a suit bankrolled by venture capitalist and tech guru Peter Thiel. Thiel, it’s theorized, was pursuing a personal vendetta against Gawker for outing him as gay in 2007; he helped Hogan sue the website for $100 million, ultimately forcing the site’s controlling media network to declare bankruptcy, sell off most of its assets, shut down the site, and settle for $31 million.
During the lawsuit, the details of the sex tape’s origins became more widely known. The tape, the public learned, had been filmed in 2006, at the Clems’ house. Bubba Clem can be seen at the beginning of the tape, apparently giving his permission for Hogan and Heather Cole to engage in sexual activity. At the tape’s conclusion, Clem can reportedly be heard commenting to Cole, “If we ever need to retire, here is our ticket.”
Despite this implication, Clem maintained that he was innocent of leaking the tape. Instead, he admitted to having downloaded the tape from his bedroom surveillance, transferred it to a DVD, labeled it “Hogan,” and kept it in an unlocked drawer in his study — from which he then said it was later stolen. Though Hogan said he was deeply hurt by the entire affair, he ultimately settled his lawsuit against Clem for just $5,000. Clem stated in court that the decision to download the sex tape was “the biggest mistake of my life.”
Bubba the Love Sponge may be an unlikely barometer for the state of national politics
Between the Gawker episode, his various controversies, firings, and lawsuits over the years, Clem’s financial situation seems to have declined rapidly. Recent profiles have painted him as having fallen from national prominence, focusing on his dwindling finances and his difficulties staying on the air.
In 2011, Clem reportedly walked away from his Sirius hosting gig due to salary cuts by the network. Though he moved to another internet streaming site, he seems to have siloed himself from more mainstream radio hosting opportunities in the years since.
But it’s possible that staying out of the mainstream is paradoxically keeping him relevant to conservative America. Despite the profiles chronicling his decline, what’s remarkable about Clem is just how high-profile he still seems to be among certain listeners. He still has a daily radio show in Tampa, which also streams live on Twitch, where he has a respectable 2.2 million total views. Moreover, his particular blend of shock humor, reportedly licentious lifestyle, and a certain flavor of white American culture still seems to generate a striking collection of moments that intertwine with national American politics.
For instance, in 2007, Clem interviewed porn actress Stormy Daniels and openly spoke to her about her alleged sexual liaisons with Donald Trump. The details of that interview resurfaced last year. Clem’s on-air phone calls with Carlson may have ended years ago, but his friendship with the pundit hasn’t. And last month, he had a different guest caller who represents yet another facet of the interplay between conservative politics, white Americana, and the media: powerful, shadowy political consultant Roger Stone, days before special counsel Robert Mueller indicted Stone and arrested him on charges pertaining to Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
That Clem has managed to keep his fingers in so many political pies while drifting further afield of mainstream radio suggests that he is perhaps more in lockstep with a certain sort of national politics than with mainstream culture itself.
At this point, it’s possible we shouldn’t be asking who Bubba the Love Sponge is, but who and what else Bubba the Love Sponge knows.
16 Striking Photos That Can Touch Your Heart
Photos keep our memories safe and every time we look at them we can immerse ourselves in the moments that have been captured in them. They can also help us to understand what’s really important in this world. And it doesn’t matter whether these photos are from your personal album or belong to somebody else. Their messages, feelings, and emotions can be perceived in one glance.
Here at Bright Side, we believe that the following photos will really touch your heart.
This couple has battled leukemia for 15 years since they were children. Now they’re husband and wife.
This fireman gave a cat that got hurt in a fire mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and saved it.
“My dad, who has dementia, trying to remember my name”
His owner passed away but the dog continues to sit near his bed and wait.
This is what depression looks like over 24 hours.
Have you ever seen a blind dog enjoying the sounds of a lake?
An Iranian girl cheers for her favorite football team from behind the fence since Iranian women aren’t allowed into stadiums.
“My mom painted dementia.”
When all you have is memories:
The 3 social classes in The Philippines in one photo
“My buddy, a glass blowing artist, used my dad’s ashes to make a keepsake marble I can take with me anywhere.”
“She gave me the best 11 years of her life and I can only hope that I was able to do the same thing for her.”
“A year ago, my little sister left this world. This weekend her heart recipient met my mom and shared her heart beat.”
“The moment your dog comes out of the fire you thought he died in”
“3 months ago we were told our newborn was blind. 2 weeks ago we found out the doctors were wrong. Today, she got her glasses.”
“I’m just so proud of you!”
Today my daughter graduated from pre-K. After the ceremony, my son walked up to her and gave her a hug. “I’m just so proud of you,” he said. Then, of course, my daughter started crying. As we wiped away our tears, my husband asked her, “Pumpkin, why are you crying?” She responded, “I’m just so happy.”
Each photo has its own story. Which of them touched you the most?
Komünist Başkan, Aldığı Kararla Sosyal Medyada Trend Topic Oldu
Mehmet Fatih Maçoğlu’nun belediye başkanı olduğu Tunceli Belediyesi Meclisi, ‘Tunceli’ yazan belediye tabelasının ‘Dersim’ olarak değiştirilmesine karar verdi. Bu karar sonrası Maçoğlu, sosyal medyada Trend Topic oldu.
Tunceli Belediye Başkanı TKP’li Fatih Mehmet Maçoğlu başkanlığında belediye meclis üyeleri toplantısında alınan kararla Tunceli Belediyesi tabelasının ‘Dersim Belediyesi’ olarak değiştirilmesi kararı alındı. Karar tartışma yaratırken ‘DersimdeğilTunceli’ etiketi sosyal medyada Trend Topic oldu.
BELEDİYEDEN AÇIKLAMA YAPILDI
Belediyeden yapılan açıklamada Dersim ibaresiyle birlikte Zazaca ve Türkçe beleriye hizmetleri verileceği duyuruldu. Açıklamada şöyle denildi: “Kentimizin kültürü, tarihi ve inanç biçimini yaşatmak adına belediyemiz hizmet binasında bulunan tabelada yazılı ‘Tunceli’ ibaresinin değiştirilerek yerine ‘Dersim’ ibaresinin yazılması oy çokluğuyla kabul edildi. Haber
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15 Random People Who Look So Much Like Celebrities, You May Want to Take a Photo With Them
It’s not an easy goal to meet a real celebrity in our everyday life. Sometimes they are too busy with their activities or simply prefer to avoid public places. But when you see one right in front of you, don’t be too quick to jump over the moon and ask for a photo. Try to check their IDs first, because we are ready to show you that there are too many ordinary people who look just like stars and who probably wouldn’t miss a chance to pose and giggle afterward.
We at Bright Side compared photos of celebrities to their clones to demonstrate that this isn’t a joke. IDs first, photos after.
15. Kylie Jenner and Kristen Hancher, but which is which?
14. “My dad actually does Jack Nicholson lookalike work in Hollywood as a hobby.”
13. Breaking news! It seems Kim Kardashian has cloned herself.
12. “This fella lives in my house. I think James Franco and he follow each other on Instagram.”
11. “My sister always gets asked if she’s Julia Stiles.”
10. Nope, those aren’t just 2 pictures of Steve Buscemi!
9. Here’s chance for those who are upset that Michael Fassbender is married.
8. We’re just interested to see if Meghan Trainor’s double has the same talents.
7. We know this is pretty unexpected for Taylor Lautner, but we can’t unsee it.
6. This girl claims that she gets compared to Katy Perry daily.
5. When Chuck Norris is on vacation.
4. “Never mind, I’ll find someone like Adele.”
3. If Cobie Smulders doesn’t want to shoot How I Met Your Mother 10, there’s a perfect replacement out there.
2. Wait, so you’re saying that isn’t Zooey Deschanel on the right?
1. Even Zach Galifianakis and Jonah Hill can see this resemblance.
Do you have any friends who look exactly like movie stars? Show us their photos!
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