Last June, The Daily Beast broke the news that coal baron Robert Murray, the CEO of the country’s largest privately-owned coal company, Murray Energy Corporation, was suing John Oliver, HBO, Time Warner and the writers’ room of Last Week Tonight for defamation over a comedy segment that aired on the late-night program.
The Last Week Tonight segment in question took aim at Murray’s business practices, criticizing the company for allegedly neglecting its miners’ safety. At the end of the episode, Oliver welcomed a giant squirrel dubbed Mr. Nutter Butter on the show—a cheeky nod to the rumor that Murray started the coal company because a squirrel told him to—who said, “Hey Bob, just wanted to say, if you plan on suing, I do not have a billion dollars. But I do have a check for three acorns and eighteen cents,” said the person in the squirrel suit, before adding, “It’s made out to, ‘Eat shit, Bob!’ Memo line: ‘Kiss my Ass!’”
Well, a judge in Marshall County, West Virginia, dismissed the lawsuit on Wednesday. In Judge Jeffrey D. Cramer’s two-page ruling, he stated, “After thorough and careful consideration of the Defendants’ Motions for Dismissal, the Plaintiffs’ Response and the Defendants’ Reply to the same, as well as all arguments in support of and opposition to the Motion, I find the arguments set forth in the Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim and Reply well-founded, appropriate in this matter and will grant the same.”
“Look, before we start this evening, a quick update regarding this show. Because you may remember that last year, we did an episode on coal in which we talked about this man, Bob Murray. Now, we said a lot of things about him—culminating in a seven-foot squirrel telling him to ‘eat shit.’ And he sued us for defamation—it’s true, that case has actually been going on ever since. But just this week, we learned the judge has said he’s going to dismiss it,” said Oliver, flanked by the aforementioned Mr. Nutter Butter.
He continued: “Now, it’s not final yet and I’ve been advised not to say much more for now, so I won’t, because as I think we know, now is not the time for victory laps, it’s not a time for gloating, it’s not a time for saying ‘hey, we won,’ and just rubbing it in the face of the person who lost over and over again”—at which point Mr. Nutter Butter revealed a gigantic sign that said ‘Eat shit, Bob!’—“that time will come. Oh, it will come. And I promise we’ll discuss this whole case as soon as we are able to.”
With that, Oliver shooed the huge squirrel off-stage.
“He will be back,” said Oliver. “I promise, he will be back.”