Last Week Tonight with John Oliver Tackles SLAPPs

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In 2017, John Oliver produced a segment on Last Week Tonight that took aim at the American coal industry and specifically targeted Murray Energy, a coal company that has been subject to numerous environmental and labor lawsuits. Murray Energy’s coal baron CEO, Robert Murray, brought a defamation lawsuit against John Oliver following the airing of the episode, but the case was dismissed in West Virginia state court. Murray filed an appeal in April 2018.

In October 2019, Murray dropped his appeal efforts following the announcement that his company was filing for chapter 11 bankruptcy, which freed Oliver to speak publicly about SLAPPs. And speak he did. He even sang and danced!

On November 10, John Oliver devoted an entire episode of Last Week Tonight to discussing SLAPPs and calling for federal and state anti-SLAPP legislation. The episode, which ends with a spectacular five minute musical theater number poking more fun at Mr. Murray, has been viewed over 6 million times on YouTube since it aired.