HBO, John Oliver Sued by Energy Company Over Segment on Coal Mining – by Eriq Gardner (Hollywood Reporter – June 22, 2017)

The defamation lawsuit discusses how Oliver created a “villainous” portrait of Murray, 77, who “needs a lung transplant” and who “does not expect to live to see the end of this case.”

HBO has been hauled into court over a June 18 broadcast of Last Week Tonight With John Oliver, which covered President Donald Trump’s generous treatment of the coal industry. The plaintiff in the defamation case is conservative coal baron Robert Murray, Murray Energy and other associated coal companies.

In a complaint filed in West Virginia Circuit Court, first obtained by The Daily Beast, Murray alleges his reputation was harmed when Oliver stated that there was no evidence an earthquake caused a deadly 2007 mine collapse and implied that Murray had lied about it. The lawsuit also cites alleged implications that Murray Energy sacrifices safety and the health of its employees for profits and takes issue with the refusal of Last Week Tonight to regard information supplied or pointed out by Murray. Then, there’s the humor.

“Instead,” reads the complaint (read here), “Defendants continued their ruthless character assassination and attack on Plaintiffs’ business reputations by describing Mr. Murray as someone who ‘looks like a geriatric Dr. Evil’ and arranging for a staff member to dress up in a squirrel costume and deliver the message ‘Eat Shit, Bob!’ to Mr. Murray.”

This is a dangerous time for media companies to poke at corporate interests. Murray’s lawsuit was filed as ABC is engaged in a $5.7 billion trial in South Dakota for calling a company’s beef product “pink slime.”

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