A defamation lawsuit was filed Wednesday against HBO, Time Warner, the writers of the pay-cable network’s “Last Week Tonight” and its host, John Oliver, by coal baron Robert E. Murray, the Daily Beast reports.
The suit focuses on the most recent episode of “Last Week Tonight,” in which Oliver reportedly attacked Donald Trump’s use of coal miners for PR purposes.
“The suit, filed on June 21 in the circuit court of Marshall County, West Virginia, holds 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 ripped into him. Murray runs the country’s largest privately owned coal company, Murray Energy Corporation,” the story reports.
The story quotes a section of the complaint that says: “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 lawsuit isn’t a surprise to Oliver,” the Daily Beast notes. “In fact, the British comic said on the episode of his show that aired on June 18 that he expected it, noting that Murray has sued several other media outlets in the past (including, in May, The New York Times). In the episode, Oliver criticized Murray’s business practices, saying he doesn’t do enough to protect his miners’ safety. Oliver also noted that his team contacted Murray’s company before the episode aired, and that the company sent a cease-and-desist letter — the first time that had ever happened to his show.”
The report adds: “At the heart of Murray’s complaint is Oliver’s discussion of the collapse of one of his mines in Utah, which killed nine people. Oliver said on the show that a government report concluded the collapse happened because of unauthorized mining practices, and also noted that Murray holds the collapse actually happened because of an earthquake.”