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Lobel Charges Libel
Originally broadcast May 20, 2005

WBZ sportscaster Bob Lobel has been the brunt of a lot of jokes and has taken it in good humor. But he and his lawyers didn’t find anything funny about last Friday’s Get Fuzzy comic strip.

Panel one starts with Satchel, the dog, asking: “Is this sportscaster drunk?”

Character Rob Wilco answers: “Lobel? Who knows. He’s like some TV outreach program or something.”

Fast forward to the last panel where Satchel says: “Guys, guys, how can you fight while there’s a drunk guy on TV?”

Local cartoonist Darby Conley’s syndicated strip appeared in several local papers including The New Bedford Times and The Boston Globe. The Globe changed Lobel to Him. The New Bedford Times ran the strip as written.

Lobel’s lawsuit claims the strip “constitutes a false and malicious libel.” And further states, “during his entire 34-plus year career, Lobel has never appeared on the air intoxicated or under the influence of alcohol.” A statement from Lobel’s attorney reads in part: “Bob is seeking.... an admission that the cartoon is false, an apology to himself and CBS 4, and money damages with a portion going to charity.”

Lobel, undeniably a public figure, must prove actual malice to win his case. In the meantime, presumably Get Fuzzy will try to Get Funny.

Hmmm – is that libelous?