This week, the two authors received letters from Murray's attorney describing the articles as
“virulent and untruthful” attacks, Gehrke writes. “We demand that you immediately retract the editorial and publish an apology acceptable to Mr. Murray,” Michael O. McKown, general counsel for Murray Energy Corp., wrote in the letter to Fiscor. “Failure to do so in a timely fashion will lead to immediate legal action.” He also claimed no "retreat mining," in which coal pillars supporting the roof are mined, leaving the roof to fall in, was being done at Crandall Canyon, although mine maps show and federal officials have said there was.

Grayson told Gehrke that "the facts speak for themselves," and that "there is ample evidence that there is absolutely no merit in the case." Peter Johnson, publisher and owner of Coal Age, said that while the defamation claim is “a little bit of a stretch,” the magazine would print an apology -- but not a retraction -- in hope of ending legal issues with Murray. In 2001, Murray, a native of Ohio, sued the Akron Beacon Journal for $1 billion over a claim of defamation in a profile of him. While the case was initially dismissed, it was reinstated by an appeals court. Eventually, the two parties settled. (Read more)

In a recent editorial, the Tribune argued that Murray should be subpoenaed to testify before a Senate subcommittee investigating the disaster at the mine. "There are questions that remain to be asked, questions that Murray should be made to answer," the editorial said. "Why wasn't MSHA notified, as required by law, of a March 10 roof collapse that proved to be a precursor of the August accident? Why wasn't the federal Bureau of Land Management informed of plans to conduct risky retreat mining, where pillars of coal that support a mine's roof are removed? And was Murray aware when he bought the mine that the previous owner had refused to remove the pillars due to safety concerns?"