Coal magnate sues John Oliver for defamation

A top coal executive is suing John Oliver over the “Last Week Tonight” host's mockery of him during a segment on the decline of the coal industry.

Murray Energy Corporation chief executive Robert Murray on Wednesday sued Oliver, HBO and Time Warner for defamation, accusing the show of a "meticulously planned attempt to assassinate the character and reputation" of Murray, according to The Washington Post.

Before criticizing Murray on Sunday's episode, Oliver noted that his show contacted the company, and it responded with a letter asking him to “cease and desist from any effort to defame, harass, or otherwise injure Mr. Murray or Murray energy.” 

Oliver went on to say Murray looks like a “geriatric Dr. Evil” and criticized his response to a deadly 2007 Utah mine accident caused by safety violations.  

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“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,” Oliver said. “And I know you’re probably going to sue me over this. But, you know what? I stand by everything I said.”

The lawsuit claims that Oliver deliberately omitted facts about the mining accident in Utah. 

Murray and his company argue that an earthquake, not dangerous mining, triggered the collapse of the Crandall Canyon Mine, which killed nine miners.

Between 2001 and 2015, he filed at least nine lawsuits against journalists and news outlets that published a negative advertisement from an activist group, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.