John Oliver is being sued by a Republican coal baron for a recent episode of Last Week Tonight on HBO. Time Warner, HBO and the writers for Oliver’s show are also named in the suit that was filed on June 21st in the circuit court of Marshall County, West Virginia. The lawsuit maintains that Oliver and his team “executed a meticulously planned attempt to assassinate the character of and reputation of Mr. Robert E. Murray and his companies” by airing an episode that was highly critical and false. Murray runs the countries largest privately owned coal company, Murray Energy Corporation. “They did this to a man who needs a lung transplant, a man who does not expect to live to see the end of this case,” the complaint says.
Oliver probably isn’t surprised by the lawsuit, if fact he said in the episode that he expected it. Murray has sued other media outlets in the past, including the New York Times. Oliver primarily criticized Murray and his company for not protecting their miner’s safety. Oliver noted the collapse of one of Murray’s mines in Utah which killed 9 people. The HBO host reported that the government concluded that the collapse was due to unauthorized mining practices. Murray holds that the collapse was actually caused by an earthquake.
Murray’s complaint says that they directed Oliver’s team to studies that support his argument and it was ignored. “Because Defendant Oliver omitted any mention of the other reports he was aware of that evidenced that an earthquake caused the collapse, as Mr. Murray correctly stated following the collapse, Defendant Oliver’s presentation intentionally and falsely implied that there is no such evidence,” the complaint said.
Murray’s complaint also said that he “has built a strong reputation as one of the as one of the staunchest defenders and most ardent champions of the United States coal industry and America itself.” The complaint claims that Murray’s health grew worse after Oliver’s show aired, “likely further reducing his already limited life expectancy due to his Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis.”
A spokesperson for HBO said, “While we have not seen the complaint, we have confidence in the staff of Last Week Tonight and do not believe anything in the show this week violated Mr. Murray’s or Murray Energy’s rights.”
As Oliver’s episode ended, a person in a squirrel costume came onstage – a reference to the report that Murray started the coal company because a squirrel told him to. The person in the squirrel suit held up an oversized check and said, “Hey Bob, just wanted to say, if you plan on suing, I do not have a billion dollars. But I do have a check for three acorns and eighteen cents.”
“Oh, that’s very nice of you, Mr. Nutter Butter,” Oliver replied.
“It is,” said the squirrel. “It’s made out to, ‘Eat sh*t, Bob!’ Memo line: ‘Kiss my A*s!’”
“Thank you, Mr. Nutter Butter!” Oliver said.
It doesn’t seem that Oliver is extremely concerned about the ramifications of his story. What do you think about this lawsuit?
Credit: The Daily Beast