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.