A West Virginia coal mogul (who's a friend to Donald Trump) is suing John Oliver, HBO, Time Warner and the writers of Last Week Tonight for defamation after Sunday's episode of the HBO late-night show targeted Robert Murray and the company of which he's CEO, Murray Energy Corporation.
The Daily Beast reports that the suit, filed on June 21 in the circuit court of Marshall County, West Virginia, argues that Last Week Tonight "executed a meticulously planned attempt to assassinate the character of and reputation of Mr. Robert E. Murray and his companies" by airing an episode that criticized Murray's business practices, safety record in his mines and litigiousness.
In fact, Oliver said on the show that he was prepared for a lawsuit since Murray's company threatened to sue as soon as they learned that Last Week Tonight was planning to do a segment on him. Murray has a history of filing lawsuits against media outlets that report on him, including The New York Times. The episode has a section about a collapse at one of Murray's mines in Utah that Oliver said was due to unsafe and illegal mining practices, while Murray maintains that it was due to an earthquake. The suit claims that Last Week Tonight ignored reports about the collapse sent by Murray's company.
The suit also claims that the company's website "was hacked and inundated with the message incited by Defendants: 'Eat s---, Bob.'" It also claims Murray's failing health worsened after Oliver's show aired, "likely further reducing his already limited life expectancy due to his Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis."
"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," the complaint reads.
During the episode, Oliver said Murray "looks like a geriatric Dr. Evil" and had a guy dress up as a squirrel and tell Murray to "eat s---" and "kiss my ass."
HBO is not terribly worried about the lawsuit. "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," a spokesperson told The Daily Beast.
Last Week Tonight airs Sundays at 11/10c on HBO.