Ahead of Major Trial, Fox May Be Trying to Settle

Judge delays start of defamation suit brought by Dominion Voting until Tuesday
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 16, 2023 5:05 PM CDT
Updated Apr 17, 2023 6:25 AM CDT
Fox News Faces Jury Monday Over False Election Claims
A person walks past the Fox News Headquarters in New York, April. 12, 2023.   (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura, File)
UPDATE Apr 17, 2023 6:25 AM CDT

The judge overseeing the defamation lawsuit filed by Dominion Voting Systems against Fox News abruptly delayed the start of the trial on Sunday night. It will now begin Tuesday, the Guardian reports. No reason was given, but sources told the Wall Street Journal the network is pushing to settle the case out of court.

Apr 16, 2023 5:05 PM CDT

Starting Monday in a courtroom in Delaware, Fox execs and stars will have to answer for their role in spreading doubt about the 2020 presidential election, reports the AP. Jurors hearing the $1.6 billion lawsuit filed by Dominion Voting Systems will consider a specific question: Did Fox defame the voting machine company by airing bogus stories alleging that the election was rigged against then-President Donald Trump, even as many at the network privately doubted the false claims being pushed by Trump and his allies? The trial will test press freedom and the reputation of one of conservatives' favorite news sources. It will also illuminate the flow of misinformation that helped spark the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the US Capitol and continues to fuel Trump's hopes to regain power in 2024.

Fox News stars Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, and founder Rupert Murdoch are all expected to testify over the next few weeks. Barring a last-minute settlement, opening statements are scheduled for Monday. Dominion's lawsuit is being closely watched by another voting-technology company with a separate but similar case against Fox News. Smartmatic has looked to some rulings and evidence in the Dominion case to try to enhance its own $2.7 billion defamation lawsuit in New York. The Smartmatic case isn’t ready for trial but has survived Fox News’ effort to get it tossed out. Many experts are surprised Fox and Dominion have not reached an out-of-court settlement, though they can at any time. There's presumably a wide financial gulf.

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In court papers, Fox contends the $1.6 billion damages claim is a wild overestimate. Dominion's motivation may also be to inflict maximum embarrassment on Fox with the peek into the network's internal communications following the election. Text messages from January 2021 revealed Carlson telling a friend that he hated Trump and couldn't wait to move on. There's little indication that the case has changed Fox's editorial direction or cut into its viewership. Fox has embraced Trump in recent weeks following the former president's indictment by a Manhattan grand jury, and Carlson presented an alternate history of the Capitol riot.

(More Fox News stories.)

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