Robert Murray is a pretty cool guy. He runs his coal company like a fiefdom, demanding tribute from his white-collar employees and free labor from his blue-collar ones. I don’t know where he lives, but if it turned out to be in a Gothic castle atop a thundercloud-choked mountain outside of Wheeling, I wouldn’t be surprised.
Last month, Murray’s company, Murray Energy, filed a lawsuit against Charleston Gazette reporter Ken Ward alleging libel. As part of a settlement on the suit, Murray Energy employees themselves wrote a glowing editorial for the Gazette. It is called “A Great Man For Coal Miners and Their Families” and Robert Murray was probably very pleasantly surprised when he opened his paper and saw it.
This letter is being written as your offered settlement in the litigation filed against The Charleston Gazette, The Daily Gazette Company, et al., and Mr. Kenneth Ward on July 25, 2012 by Murray Energy and Subsidiary Companies and Mr. Murray in the Court of Common Pleas, Belmont County, Ohio. The complaint is for profound damages, libel, defamation, and the deliberate concoction of lies by The Charleston Gazette newspaper, Gazette website and Coal Tattoo ‘blog’.
[Y]our newspaper and Mr. Ward have become totally discredited by your demonizing the responsible Americans who have created and maintained our important industry and the jobs and families that depend on it. You have chosen to falsely assail our Company and founder using second-hand information or by just creating mistruths. …
In fact, in reviewing his articles as far back as the ‘blog’s’ founding, on February 5, 2009, we could not find a single article that was supportive of the coal industry. Given the paramount economic importance of the coal jobs to our region, Mr. Ward’s articles have had, and continue to have, a very destructive impact on the region’s coal miners and their families. …
There have been repeated attempts by the radical liberal elitists to silence Mr. Murray from speaking out against President Obama’s war on coal and others who have been destroying coal mining jobs in our region. Mr. Ward and The Charleston Gazette have aided and abetted these radicals and bolstered their extremist job-killing positions.
Ugh. Ken Ward and Obama, working together to kill Big Coal.
[Y]ou need to start showing respect for those, such as Mr. Robert E. Murray, who have done, and are doing, so much to maintain our coal industry and the economy of our region.
I think we all agree that the media needs to be more obsequious to people in positions of power.
A knock on a heavy wooden door. “Come in,” says Murray. The messenger enters, cautiously. He holds out the missive in a heavy lambskin envelope. Murray surveys it, notes the names signed at the bottom in human blood. “This is fine, servant. Send it to the Gazette at once.” As the messenger quickly leaves, Murray turns to look out the window again. A flash of lightning illuminates the hills around his home. Each is treeless, ripped open to the rain, as an endless line of empty trucks dip down into its caverns and an endless line of trucks loaded with coal creep back out.