John Oliver, HBO Sued for Defamation by Coal Executive

Comedian spent much of last week’s show bashing Murray Energy Corporation CEO Robert Murray

Last Updated: June 22, 2017 @ 8:18 AM

HBO’s “Last Week Tonight” was hit with a defamation lawsuit by Murray Energy Corporation CEO Robert Murray after host John Oliver spent much of Sunday’s show bashing the coal executive.

The complaint says the show’s segment was “false, injurious, and defamatory,” and an “attempt to advance their biases against the coal industry and their disdain for the coal-related policies of the Trump Administration,” according to Dan Abrams’ LawNewz.

The suit names producer Charles Wilson, HBO, and parent company Time Warner, Inc., according to Law Newz. The sites also reported that the suit claims Time Warner “is widely reported as a top ten donor of Hillary Clinton” and the former Democratic presidential candidate has “an agenda of putting coal miners and companies out of business.”

Murray’s lawyers preemptively sent a cease and desist letter Oliver’s way prior to the show. Of course, the threat of litigation merely made the “Daily Show” alum double-down on Murray’s treatment of his employees.

Part of Oliver’s segment featured a clip of an interview with Murray after a fatal mine collapse that the executive blamed on an earthquake. Oliver said Murray continued to blame the earthquake after an investigation said that was not the cause. However, the lawsuit claims the Federal Mine Safety and Health Administration’s report essentially coincided with Murray’s claim that an earthquake caused the collapse, according to LawNewz.

The lawsuit alleges that Oliver “intentionally, falsely, and outrageously” said that Murray’s claim was false despite producers being aware of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Administration’s report, according to LawNewz.

Oliver is well aware of Murray’s history of litigation and said, “I know that you are probably going to sue me, but you know what? I stand by everything I said,” during the segment.

HBO issued the following statement to LawNewz: “While we have not seen the complaint, 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.”

Check out the segment above.

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