Lawsuit against Fox News for false U.S. election claims heads to trial

Jurors to see voting machine company’s $1.6 billion assets on Tuesday for first time libel suit Against Fox News in a trial that would test First Amendment protections and expose the network’s role in dissemination lie The stolen 2020 presidential election.

At the beginning of the trial, the judge granted the one day delay That gave them time to see if they could reach a settlement.

In the Dominion Voting Systems lawsuit, jury selection and opening arguments were scheduled for Monday.The Denver-based company aims to hold Fox accountable for airing false accusation of election fraud Continue to disrupt American politics.

Delaware Superior Court Judge Eric Davis offered no explanation for the brief delay. But he suggested the companies try to mediate their dispute, according to a person close to Fox, who was not authorized to speak publicly about the status of the lawsuit and requested anonymity.

the case will be reviewed defamation standard Guiding American media organizations for nearly 60 years, sheds light on the behind-the-scenes activities of Fox News in the weeks following the 2020 election, and uncovers the flow of misinformation that turned into a wave after the election, when then-President Donald Trump lost to Joe Trump. biden.

Fox News stars such as Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity, as well as company founder Rupert Murdoch, expected to testify period six week trialbut it was unclear whether any witnesses would be called Tuesday.

Dominion claims New York-based Fox News and its parent company, Fox Corp. Down the business of voting firms And made employees intimidated by falsely implicating it in a bogus conspiracy to rig the election against Trump.

In the weeks following Election Day, the famous Fox News host brought trump ally Who falsely claimed that Dominion’s machines were programmed to steal votes from a Republican incumbent and fill the total for a Democratic challenger.

many hosts and executives at fox don’t believe the claims But they are still allowed to air.

“Fox spread and endorsed one of the most damaging lies in the history of this country,” Dominion’s attorneys wrote in a court filing.

Point out communication between Fox characters, from executives to fact checkerDominion thinks the network intentionally amplifies lie for for ratings.

Fox said it simply covered Trump’s challenge to the election results and let viewers hear from his lawyers and allies.

“Dominion’s lawsuit is a political campaign seeking a financial windfall, but the real price will be cherishing First Amendment rights,” the network said in a statement last week.

Fox said its hosts have sometimes hinted at the need for evidence to support the allegations, noting that Dominion has denied the claims.

federal and state election officialsexhaustive Comment exist Battlefield and trump’s own attorney general set up No widespread fraud that could have changed election results. they also did not show up any credible evidence Voting is tainted.

dozens of courts, some are judges appointed by trump, also denied his fraud charges.In Dominion, Davis asserted that it was “Crystal Clear” The statement about voting machine companies is not true.

A key question for the jury is whether Fox News acted with “actual malice,” the legal standard used when public figures sue news outlets for defamation. The standard, derived from a 1964 Supreme Court case, means knowingly publishing or disseminating false information, or having “reckless disregard” for its truthfulness.

Dominion noted that Fox insiders dismissed the vote-rigging claims in text messages and emails, sometimes publicly mocking them. A Fox Corp. vice president called them “crazy lunatics.”

Fox News’ biggest star Carlson even said contempt for trump, whose supporters form the core of the online audience. In text exchanges disclosed as part of the lawsuit, Carlson declared, “I hate him so much,” and said “we’re very, very close to being able to ignore Trump most nights.”

Fox News founder and Fox Corporation chairman Rupert Murdoch said he thought the election statement was “really crazy” in an email sent while watching a Nov. 19, 2020, press conference by Trump’s lawyers.

“The horrible stuff hurt everyone, I worry. It probably hurt us too,” Murdoch told Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott in a separate email that day.

However, discussions of the alleged plot continued to air on Fox for weeks after the vote.

In his testimony in the case, Murdoch admits 2020 presidential election is fair, while acknowledging some of Fox’s hosts seems to agree false election statement

The network maintains that Dominion culled from private messages and broadcast transcripts, as well as testimony from various Fox players, while ignoring other commentary and context that was more favorable to Fox. The network also maintained that Dominion’s claims of losing business were grossly exaggerated.

As the trial drew closer, Fox found himself in a difficult situation with the judge.davis rap network Last week for what he considered “false statements” and delays in disclosing some information in the case.In a letter to the judge on Friday, a lawyer for Fox said what the lawyers said was wrong. Disclosure of Murdoch’s official role On Fox News.

—David Bauder, Randall Chase and Geoff Mulvihill for The Associated Press

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