Charleston Gazette settles Murray Energy libel suit by publishing op-ed

In August, the Charleston Gazette and reporter Ken Ward Jr. were sued by Murray Energy for a July 18 blog post that implied the company and CEO Bob Murray are criminals. (Read “Mitt Romney, Murray Energy and coal criminals.”)

Over the weekend, the Gazette made that lawsuit go away by publishing an op-ed about CEO Murray and his company headlined, “A Great Man For Coal Miners and Their Families.”

Bob Murray

The piece — signed by “Senior Management Employees of Murray Energy Corporation and Subsidiary Companies” — claims the Gazette and its reporter “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.”

Gazette publisher Elizabeth Chilton tells WFPL public radio that the paper’s settlement “contains no admission by the newspaper that anything it published was incorrect, libelous or defamatory.”

Under the settlement, the Gazette agreed to publish a commentary by Mr. Murray responding to the Coal Tattoo blog post that prompted Mr. Murray’s suit.

Our newspaper also has a long history of providing space to allow readers and subjects of our stories to respond to what we publish. The ability to question our reporting or disagree with our commentary is available to anyone.

Meanwhile, Ward continues to post to his Coal Tattoo blog.

* Coal company, Charleston Gazette reach settlement in libel case (wfpl.org)
* Murray was probably very pleasantly surprised when he opened his paper and saw the op-ed (grist.org)
* Earlier: Murray Energy sues Charleston Gazette and reporter Ken Ward Jr. (jimromenesko.com)

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