The lawsuit concerns a segment on Sunday's episode of 'Last Week Tonight'.
A lawsuit filed on Wednesday this week (June 21st) cites the most recent episode of ‘Last Week Tonight’ and claims 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,” according to a report by The Daily Beast.
Back on Sunday (June 18th), Oliver took aim at Murray, the CEO of Murray Energy Corporation, in a segment that suggested the coal executive doesn’t do enough to protect his employees in the workplace.
John Oliver is being sued for defamation by coal baron Robert E. Murray
Ridiculing Murray as a “geriatric Dr. Evil”, Oliver even said at the time that he was expecting the lawsuit given the coal baron’s litigious history, and that when the ‘Last Week Tonight’ team reached out to him for a comment, their only response was a cease-and-desist letter.
“Bob Murray, I didn’t really plan for so much of this piece to be about you, but you kind of forced my hand on that one,” he said in a segment about the coal industry’s practices and its safety record. “And I know you’re probably going to sue me over this. But, you know what? I stand by everything I said.”
Accordingly, The Washington Post reports that Murray is suing for one count each of defamation, false light invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
HBO is standing firmly behind Oliver on the issue, releasing a statement soon after receipt of the lawsuit that read: “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.”
Murray’s bone of contention with Oliver appears to be the citation of the collapse of one of his mines in Utah, which claimed the lives of nine people. Oliver pointed to a government report that placed the blame on unauthorised mining practices, while Murray claims that he provided evidence that it was because of an earthquake but that Oliver ignored that.
“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 lawsuit states.
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