The coal magnate Robert Murray has filed a lawsuit against John Oliver, HBO, Time Warner, and the writers of Oliver’s show over the most recent episode of “Last Week Tonight,” The Daily Beast reports. In a segment on the show, Oliver took on Murray’s business practices and the safety hazards of the coal industry at large.
Murray – who runs Murray Energy Corporation, the largest private coal company in the country – filed the suit Wednesday. It says Oliver’s program “executed a meticulously planned attempt to assassinate the character of and reputation of Mr. Robert E. Murray and his companies.”
In the segment, Oliver called Murray a “geriatric Dr. Evil” because of Murray Energy’s weakened safety practices, which Oliver contended led to a collapse in one of Murray’s Utah mines that killed nine workers in 2007.
Oliver predicted during the segment on Sunday that the lawsuit would occur. The “Last Week Tonight” host said Murray had a history of suing media outlets over unflattering coverage and that Murray previously sent a cease-and-desist letter when the show reached out to him for comment.
Murray’s lawsuit argues that Oliver omitted mention of reports that an earthquake, rather than dangerous mining practices, caused the Utah mine collapse. Murray himself has cited an earthquake as the cause of the incident.
The suit mentions that Murray’s bad health worsened after he saw the segment, “likely further reducing his already limited life expectancy due to his idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.”
Murray, an ardent supporter of President Donald Trump, also takes issue with Oliver’s political motivations in the suit, saying Oliver’s program has “vigorously supported and advanced Mrs. Clinton’s agenda.”
According to Ken White, a First Amendment litigator in California who talked to The Daily Beast, Murray’s suit is “frivolous and vexatious,” and “any core of merit is buried in nonsense.”
Watch the segment that prompted Murray’s lawsuit: