A Delaware judge on Monday said that he had delayed by a day the start of a highly anticipated defamation trial over the spread of misinformation in the 2020 presidential election.
The postponement of the trial was the latest twist in the case. Late Sunday, Judge Eric M. Davis said the proceedings would continue on Tuesday. He did not give a reason then or in his brief remarks from the bench just after 9 a.m. on Monday.
“This does not seem unusual to me,” Judge Davis said, explaining that he had rarely been part of a trial that did not have some kind of delay. “I am continuing the matter until tomorrow.”
The case has opened an unprecedented window into the inner workings of the country’s leading conservative news network. In the run-up to trial, Fox has handed over tens of thousands of emails and text messages exchanged among its hosts, producers and executives. Many of them revealed that there was widespread doubt inside the network over former President Donald J. Trump’s false claims that he had been cheated of victory.
The case is considered a landmark test of First Amendment protections for the press and has been closely watched by legal and media analysts. Dominion’s voting machines became the focus of pro-Trump conspiracy theories that wrongly implicated the company’s technology in a plot to flip votes from Mr. Trump to President Biden.
On Monday, the courtroom was filled with reporters from around the world awaiting word on when they could expect to hear opening statements from both parties and exactly what the delay was about.
Boldface names from Fox News — hosts including Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity and Maria Bartiromo, along with Rupert Murdoch, whose family controls the sprawling Fox media empire — are expected to testify if the case goes to trial.
Dominion Voting Systems, an elections technology company, filed the libel lawsuit against Fox in early 2021, claiming that Fox hosts and guests repeatedly uttered lies about its role in a fictitious plot to steal the election despite knowing the claims, which had been pushed by Mr. Trump and his supporters, were not true.
Fox has said that it was reporting on newsworthy allegations involving a presidential election and insisted that its broadcasts were protected under the First Amendment as commentary and news. It has also challenged Dominion’s damages claim, arguing that the company vastly overvalued itself and has not suffered the blows to its business that it says.
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