Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Bob Murray’s Very Silly Lawsuit Against John Oliver

Speaking of rich assholes using the legal system to try to silence critics, Mike Masnick of Techdirt assessed the lawsuit filed by Bob Murray — a rich asshole — against John Oliver, HBO, and Last Week Tonight:

Anyway, when we wrote about the case yesterday, we noted that we had to do it based solely on the reporting of the Daily Beast, as they broke the story and — for reasons I still don’t understand — refused to post the actual complaint. However, now we’ve obtained the full complaint and can dig in on how incredibly silly it is. It appears to be a quintessential SLAPP lawsuit, where the entire point is not to bring a legitimate cause of action, but to chill free speech that criticizes Bob Murray. As Ken “Popehat” White notes, it’s “lawsuit as theater” and “an unapologetic political screed” — that is, apparently designed to rile people up, rather than to present a reasonable legal argument.

Luckily, Oliver has the backing of HBO’s legal department. But imagine if an independent newspaper or website published a similar story: they likely would not be able to afford a basic defence of the truth. This isn’t even about the First Amendment — it’s about whether the press can continue to publish completely factual items critical of wealthy people.