An Ohio-based coal company and its CEO are suing Last Week Tonight host John Oliver, HBO, and Time Warner for defamation, claiming on his June 18 show, Oliver executed a "maliciously planned attempt to assassinate the character and reputation" of Robert Murray and Murray Energy.
In a suit filed Wednesday in West Virginia, the company accused Oliver and HBO of a "callous, vicious, and false" attack on the coal industry as part of their "most recent attempt to advance their biases against the coal industry and their disdain for the coal-related policies of the Trump administration." During the segment, Oliver discussed ways "people conflate coal, coal miners, and coal companies and imply that when you help one, you help them all. But they are not all in the same boat." Oliver mentioned Murray and his company fighting against safety regulations in the coal industry, and at one point called Murray a "geriatric Dr. Evil."
The suit says Murray, 77, needs a lung transplant, thinks he won't live long enough to see this case reach a conclusion, and believes the segment incited people to "do harm to Mr. Murray and his companies." He is asking for financial damages and a court order preventing the segment from being aired ever again. During the segment, Oliver noted that when the show contacted Murray Energy for comment, they responded with a letter threatening legal action if Last Week Tonight did not "cease and desist from any effort to defame, harass, or otherwise injure Mr. Murray or Murray Energy." A representative for HBO told USA Today the company has "confidence in the staff of Last Week Tonight" and doesn't believe "anything in the show this week violated Mr. Murray or Murray energy's rights." Watch the segment causing all of this hullabaloo below. Catherine Garcia