Those of you who saw Sunday night’s Last Week Tonight segment on the shrinking coal industry will recall that John Oliver received a cease and desist order from Bob Murray, the CEO of a mining outfit, Murray Energy Corporation. Bob Murray had asked Last Week Tonight not to run the parts of the segment about Murray, which of course prompted Oliver to make Bob Murray the centerpiece of the segment, even knowing that Oliver would be sued.
“Bob Murray, I didn’t really plan for so much of this piece to be about you, but you kinda forced my hand on that one,” Oliver said. “And I know you’re probably going to sue me over this. But, you know what? I stand by everything I said.”
As promised, Oliver was hit with a lawsuit for defamation yesterday.
In the segment, Oliver called Murray the geriatric Dr. Evil and claimed that he was on the same side as black lung. He also referred to what is apparently a fake story about Murray being convinced to enter the coal industry by a talking squirrel, which Bob Murray’s company denies. Oliver noted the denial, and then had his own talking squirrel come out and speak to Murray.
The lawsuit claims that HBO, Time Warner, and John Oliver engaged in a “meticulously planned attempt to assassinate the character and reputation” of Bob Murray, and that’s certainly what the segment did, although it did so using facts, something with which Bob Murray — who once falsely claimed a mining disaster was caused by an earthquake — seems unfamiliar.
“Nothing has ever stressed him more than this vicious and untruthful attack,” the complaint says, according to The Washington Post. Murray also claims that the segment contains “biases against the coal industry” and “disdain for the coal-related policies of the Trump Administration.”
That’s actually true, but then again, the Trump Administration’s policies are disdainful. For instance, did you know — as the segment points out — that there are only 78,000 coal mining jobs in America? And that there are 114,000 JCPenneys employees, and JCPennys is facing bankruptcy. Why isn’t Trump doing anything about the latter, especially considering that the coal industry is largely automated now and that even the Kentucky Coal Mining Museum is powered by solar.
I missed the segment the first time around, but there’s nothing like a lawsuit to bring attention back to it, and it is phenomenal. Bob Murray has a legal leg to stand on.