Coal tycoon Robert Murray believes HBO’s John Oliver helped bankroll the American Civil Liberty Union’s (ACLU) legal brief attacking the coal tycoon’s libel lawsuit against the comedian.
Oliver used his show “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” to help raise funds for the civil rights organization, which the group then used to target Murray’s lawsuit, according to a court document the energy CEO filed Monday. Murray objects to a segment Oliver aired earlier this year comparing him to a “geriatric Dr. Evil.”
“In November of 2016,”Oliver used ‘Last Week Tonight with John Oliver’ to encourage viewers to donate to numerous left-leaning organizations, which – not surprisingly – resulted in an immediate surge of millions of dollars in donations to the ACLU,” Murray’s brief noted.
Murray claimed that the donations are evidence that the ACLU wasn’t being honest when it told the court that the Oliver camp never funded the brief. Oliver did appear to ask the audience in a Nov. 13, 2016, episode to donate money to groups such as the NAACP and Planned Parenthood, but he did not appear to mention the ACLU.
The ACLU’s West Virginia chapter argued in the amicus brief that Oliver was within his constitutional rights to air the segment referencing Murray as a villain in the Austin Powers’ movies. The group’s brief contains sections ripping the coal magnate, including titles such as “Anyone Can Legally Eat Shit, Bob,” among other pointed barbs.
His company filed a lawsuit against The New York Times editorial board in April, arguing that the paper falsely claimed Murray lied when he insisted the collapse of his Crandall Canyon mine in 2007 was because of an earthquake, not poor safety measures.
Data shows that an earthquake triggered the collapse, which killed several mine workers and those attempting to rescue them, the company wrote in a May 3 statement announcing the lawsuit. It also noted that federal prosecutors were unable to directly connect safety violations to the mine’s collapse.
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