Coal company sues HBO's John Oliver for defamation

On Sunday, television's John Oliver skewered President Donald Trump's energy policies, the coal mining industry and OH coal baron Bob Murray in a segment that practically dared Murray to sue him.

But it had to be done, he said.

Murray Energy filed this lawsuit, in part, in order to protect these lives and family livelihoods from the further damage by people who do not want to see coal mined, and want all of those lives destroyed, and will stop at nothing, including lying and fabrications, to accomplish their goal.

Before Oliver began his piece, he said that Last Week Tonight had contacted Murray Energy Corporation and it responded by asking Oliver to "cease and desist from any effort to defame, harass, or otherwise injure Mr Murray or Murray energy". He suggested Mr Murray was "on the same side as black lung" and criticised his response to a deadly 2007 mine accident in Utah found to have been caused by safety violations. If you would like to discuss another topic, look for a relevant article.

"I know you're probably going to sue me over this", Oliver said. But, you know what?

"I'm going to need to be careful here", Oliver said.

And they are alleging they were set up by the HBO satirical show.

Oliver's "Last Week Tonight" coal segment criticized the Trump administration's effort to revive the industry, saying coal jobs have dropped for decades and other energy alternatives are driving the industry's decline.

It concluded with an actor in a squirrel costume telling Murray that if he was planning to make good on threats to sue the show, "I do not have a billion dollars but I do have a check", while showing a check emblazoned with vulgarities directed at Murray.

Murray Energy Corporation has previously stated that it believes an quake caused the accident and it wasn't the result of unsafe mining. Mr Murray and his company have argued that an quake, not risky mining, triggered the collapse of the Crandall Canyon Mine, which killed nine miners.

Murray is suing for one count each of defamation, false light invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress, according to The Washington Post.

Last Week Tonight airs Sundays at 11/10c on HBO. The defendants "ignored our communications and, instead, continued to baselessly and maliciously attack the character of Mr Murray and Murray Energy, with no factual basis whatsoever", the statement read.

An HBO spokesman says the show didn't violate Murray Energy's rights or those of Murray. Murray has a history of filing lawsuits against media outlets that report on him, including The New York Times. Most if not all never went to trial. He is also suing HBO and Time Warner for defamation.

  • Salvatore Jensen