New York (CNN) A trial in a defamation lawsuit filed against Fox News by Dominion Voting Systems is set to begin this week. This could result in significant changes for the right-wing cable channel.
The trial was expected to begin Monday in Delaware, but Supreme Court Justice Eric Davis announced it would be delayed until Tuesday, according to a statement released by the court Sunday night.
Dominion is an election technology company. After former President Donald Trump lost the 2020 presidential election to Joe Biden, Dominion accused Fox of promoting various pro-Trump conspiracy theories, including false and damaging information about the company’s voting technology.Lies are good for Fox’s business“Fox argues that it is simply reporting claims made by the Trump administration and associates of Donald Trump.
It filed a defamation suit in 2021.
Here are 5 things to know before the trial.
Fox announcers and executives may take the stand
Dominion wants the network’s star hosts and top executives to appear on the witness stand during the trial, it filed in court in March.
If the Dominion gets its way, here’s who could appear as witnesses:
• Suzanne Scott, Fox News CEO
• Jay Wallace, Fox News Chairman
• Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson, Maria Barthiromo, Laura Ingraham and Brett Pier
• Abby GrossbergA former Fox News producer alleges the network’s attorneys coerced him into giving false testimony in a lawsuit filed in March.
• In April, Delaware Superior Court Judge Eric Davis said Dominion Fox Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch and his son, CEO Lachlan Murdoch, may be forced to testify.A huge blow to Fox.
“Both sides have made these witnesses very relevant,” Davis said of the Murdocks. Fox tried to prevent the Murdocks from being put on the witness stand.
There is a lot of money involved
Dominion is asking for $1.6 billion in compensatory damages and additional punitive damages.
It can be a Huge financial hit for Fox. Fox Corp., the owner of the right-wing news organization, has an estimated $4 billion in cash on hand, according to its latest filing. Income statement. It’s also not clear how much insurance the company has or what insurance policy will cover it.
However, punitive damages are not capped in Delaware, and there is no statutory maximum.
The network says the number is a wildly exaggerated amount made up to garner headlines.
Implications of the First Amendment
Fox argued in a statement that the case is about protecting “the rights of a free press” and that a ruling in Dominion’s favor would have “serious consequences” for the Fourth Estate.
“Dominion’s lawsuit is a political crusade seeking a financial windfall, but the real cost is respecting First Amendment rights,” a Fox spokesman said in a statement. Report.
Because of the Supreme Court’s 1964 New York Times v. Sullivan decision, defamation lawsuits are difficult to win in the United States. Defamation must meet a higher standard. A company cannot have lied, it must have known (or at least strongly suspected) that it was false at the time, and it must have done so with “actual malice.” The court has already ruled on the first two that Fox broadcast lies and knew them to be false, so instead of a question of fact, the question is whether Fox acted maliciously.
While key figures at Fox have privately acknowledged the truth that former President Donald Trump lost to President Joe Biden in 2020, Fox has continued to air conspiracies and lies to engage its massive audience.
The cache of private messages, emails and depositions revealed that Fox did not uphold the journalistic responsibility to report the truth to its audience. The judge has rejected many of Fox’s First Amendment protections And pretrial rulings barred the network from arguing that its guests’ defamatory statements were “newsworthy” and worthy of coverage.
Private messages made public
Legal filings made public a Personal text messages, emails and deposition transcriptsReveals How Fox Hosts, Producers, and Executives Really Felt About Trump
Roughly 10,000 pages of court documents made public as part of the case include the sordid behind-the-scenes communications, many of which are likely to be shown at trial.
For example, anchor Tucker Carlson said in a text message that he hates Trump “with a passion.” In a November 2020 exchange, Tucker Carlson said Trump’s decision to block Joe Biden’s inauguration was “very devastating” and that Trump’s post-election behavior was “disgusting” and that he was “trying to look the other way”.
Murdoch emailed the New York Post’s Colonel Allen, describing Trump’s election lies as “bulls**t” and “damaging.”
Murdoch’s private messages revealed how his own thoughts conflicted with those presented by Fox. “Maybe Sean [Hannity] And Laura [Ingraham] Went too far,” Murdoch wrote in an email to Fox News chief executive Suzanne Scott, referring to Trump’s election denial after his loss to President Joe Biden.
Delaware Superior Court Judge Eric Davis said he would convene a hearing Monday morning to formally announce a one-day delay. But no further action in the case is now expected on Monday.
Opening statements are expected at some point during the day on Tuesday. Selection of arbitrators It is expected to conclude on Tuesday morning, with a panel of 12 judges and 12 alternates. Opening statements are expected to begin immediately after the jury is seated. The trial is expected to last five to six weeks.
Dominion must convince the jury that Fox acted with “actual malice” — that the right-wing network’s hosts and executives knew what was being said on air was false, but aired it anyway or simply ignored the truth. That they should take responsibility.
CNN’s Oliver Darcy, Marshall Cohen and John Passantino contributed to this story.
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