Judge delays trial over Fox News and 2020 election lies

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The Delaware judge overseeing a voting machine company’s 1.6 billion dollar defamation lawsuit against Fox News says he is delaying the start of the trial until Tuesday.

He did not cite a reason on Sunday night.

The trial, which has drawn international interest, had been scheduled to start on Monday morning with jury selection and opening statements.

The case centres on whether Fox defamed Dominion Voting Systems by spreading false claims that the company rigged the 2020 presidential election to prevent former president Donald Trump’s re-election.

Fox Dominion Lawsuit
Rupert Murdoch had been expected to testify (Mary Altaffer/AP, File)

Claire Bischoff, a Dominion spokesperson, said the company would have no comment on the trial delay, as did Fox Corp, which is being sued along with Fox News. Representatives of the network did not return a request for comment.

In his statement, Delaware Superior Court judge Eric Davis said only that the trial, including jury selection, would be continued until Tuesday and that he would announce the delay in court on Monday.

That is when Fox News executives and the network’s star hosts were scheduled to begin answering for their role in spreading doubt about the 2020 presidential election and creating the gaping wound that remains in America’s democracy.

Jurors hearing the lawsuit filed against Fox by Dominion Voting Systems would have to answer 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 Mr Trump and his allies?

Yet the broader context looms large. A trial would test press freedom and the reputation of conservatives’ favourite news source.

It also would illuminate the flow of misinformation that helped spark the January 6, 2021, insurrection at the US Capitol and continues to fuel Mr Trump’s hopes to regain power in 2024.

Fox News stars Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity and founder Rupert Murdoch are among the people who had been expected to testify.

Barring a settlement, opening statements are now scheduled for Tuesday.

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