High-stakes showdown between Dominion and Fox News in Delaware court set to begin

Washington- Lies about the spread of the 2020 presidential election following the loss of former President Donald Trump will take center stage in Delaware state court on Tuesday, when Dominion Voting Systems assert one’s claims before a jury that Fox News aired against him baseless accusations that the network knew were false.

The high-stakes trial comes two years after Dominion sued against Fox News and is poised to test the limits of the First Amendment while pointing out unsubstantiated claims amplified by a former president and his allies that the 2020 presidential election was robbed. With the trial set to begin Monday with the final round of jury selection and opening statements, Delaware Superior Court Judge Eric Davis, who is overseeing the case, announced Sunday evening that the start would be postponed to tuesday. He did not cite a reason.

“It’s not unusual,” Davis said in brief proceedings Monday morning, noting that postponements often occur.

The key issue for the 12 jurors weighing Dominion libel case against the cable news giant is whether Fox News defamed the company when it aired claims that the electronic voting company helped orchestrate a campaign to rig the election against Trump.

For Dominion to succeed, the company’s attorneys must convince the jury that Fox News acted with actual malice, the legal standard that requires a public figure to prove that the publisher either knew the offending statements were false or acted with a reckless disregard for the truth. If Dominion succeeds in passing that high bar, the jury will then decide how much damages it says the company is entitled to.

Dominion is suing Fox and its parent company, Fox Corporation, for $1.6 billion and pointed to 20 statements — many made by conservative attorneys Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani — that aired on shows hosted by Maria Bartiromo, Lou Dobbs , Jeanine Pirro, Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity or on Twitter which they claim were defamatory.

“In the coming weeks, we will prove that Fox spread lies causing enormous damage to Dominion. We look forward to the trial,” a Dominion spokesperson said in a statement before the trial began.

Fox News argues that the Dominion allegations were newsworthy given who made the statements, when they were made and what they were about, and that the shows are protected by the First Amendment.

“The Dominion lawsuit is a political crusade in search of a financial windfall, but the real cost would be cherished First Amendment rights,” a Fox spokesperson said in a statement. “While Dominion has pushed irrelevant and misleading information to generate headlines, FOX News remains committed to protecting the rights of a free press, a verdict for Dominion and its private equity owners would have serious consequences for the entire journalistic profession.

The case has already brought to public view tons of text messages and internal emails exchanged by Fox hosts, producers and executives, many of whom showed they had doubts about the veracity of the allegations being aired. by Trump and his allies.

Dominion and Fox News asked Davis to rule in their favor based on the evidence presented in the case. But Davis said in a notice late last month that a jury to decide if Fox acted with actual malice in disseminating unsubstantiated Dominion allegations.

The judge also said it was “oxymoronic” to call the 20 disputed statements opinions while saying they were newsworthy allegations. Davis, who reviewed the 20 shows and tweets where the lies about Dominion were made, said it was “crystal clear” that none of the claims relating to the electronic voting company are true.

Davis last week sanctioned Fox lawyers after Dominion alleged the network withheld evidence and information it should have turned over. A Fox attorney apologized to the judge in a letter Friday, writing that the network’s legal team is “committed to clear and full communication with the Court going forward.”

A number of top Fox News hosts, including Carlson, Hannity and Baritromo, are expected to testify during the roughly six-week trial, alongside co-founder Rupert Murdoch.

Nicole Sganga contributed to this report.

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