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John Oliver Got Sued for This Segment on Coal, So Here It Is Again

The main story of last Sunday’s Last Week Tonight was coal, a segment that dove into important distinctions between between the coal industry, coal miners, and coal companies. It was a strong 25 minutes about the false promises Donald Trump has been making about coal and an attempt to open up an honest conversations about a “difficult and painful, albeit necessary, transition.” However, the show is facing some pushback.

During the episode, John Oliver takes a lot of time particularly to talk about Bob Murray, the CEO of Murray Energy Corporation. Oliver mentions that when writing this episode, they received a cease and desist order from Murray himself and doubles down by neither ceasing nor desisting.

He does everything from sharing stories about the mistreatment of coal miners (which includes claiming a 2007 mine accident caused by safety violations was the result of an earthquake) by Murray Energy to calling him a “geriatric Dr. Evil” that was “on the same side as black lung” to making fun of his company’s origin story with a gigantic squirrel mascot named Mr. Nutterbutter.

With full awareness of what this would lead to, Oliver says “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. And I know you’re probably going to sue me over this. But, you know what? I stand by everything I said.”

As expected, Oliver got hit by a lawsuit yesterday that claimed he staged a “meticulously planned attempt to assassinate the character and reputation.” According to The Washington Post, the lawsuit says “Nothing has ever stressed him more than this vicious and untruthful attack” and claims it is a product of “biases against the coal industry” as well as “disdain for the coal-related policies of the Trump Administration.”

The news is even less surprising, because, as the Washington Post says, “Murray is known for aggressively suing journalists and media organizations that run critical content about him and his companies.” There have been at least nine since 2001, though “Most if not all never went to trial.”

HBO, in a statement, says, “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.”

(via Pajiba, image: screencap)

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