Ail­ing coal CEO sues Oliver over ‘Last Week’ seg­ment

The Washington Times Daily - - POLITICS - — Ben Wolf­gang

The CEO of the na­tion’s largest coal com­pany filed a defama­tion suit Thurs­day against HBO star John Oliver, claim­ing the “Last Week Tonight” host “de­meaned and dis­par­aged” him, his min­ers, and the en­tire coal in­dus­try dur­ing a seg­ment that aired last Sun­day.

In the seg­ment, Mr. Oliver — who has de­nounced the oil in­dus­try and Pres­i­dent Trump’s de­ci­sion to pull the U.S. from the Paris cli­mate ac­cord — at­tacked the coal sec­tor and specif­i­cally took aim at Robert Mur­ray, a 77-year-old for­mer miner and the coun­try’s most vo­cal coal cham­pion.

“An hon­est con­ver­sa­tion about coal and its min­ers needs to be had,” Mr. Oliver said dur­ing the seg­ment, be­fore go­ing on to ques­tion the way Mur­ray En­ergy re­sponded to a 2007 mine col­lapse that killed six min­ers.

Ex­pect­ing a law­suit, Mr. Oliver closed the seg­ment by hold­ing up a fake check that read “Eat sh*t Bob!” and in­cluded the phrase “kiss my ass” in the memo. The HBO host also re­ferred to Mr. Mur­ray as a “ge­ri­atric Dr. Evil.”

In its law­suit, Mur­ray En­ergy charged that the seg­ment was both un­fair to the coal in­dus­try and hurt­ful to Mr. Mur­ray, whose health is de­clin­ing.

“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,” reads the law­suit, filed in Mar­shall County, West Vir­ginia, court.

In re­sponse, an HBO spokesper­son told USA To­day that the com­pany does “not be­lieve any­thing in the show this week vi­o­lated Mr. Mur­ray’s or Mur­ray En­ergy’s rights.”

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS PHO­TO­GRAPHS

Mur­ray En­ergy, a coal com­pany, has filed a defama­tion suit against co­me­dian John Oliver (left) be­cause of a seg­ment it aired on his HBO show, “Last Week Tonight.” The seg­ment crit­i­cized CEO Robert Mur­ray.

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