Fox Settlement Talks With Dominion Heat Up on Eve of Trial

Settlement Talks Accelerate in $1.6 Billion Dominion-Fox News Defamation Suit

On the brink of trial, Fox News and Dominion Voting Systems Inc. are ramping up settlement discussions in the voting machine maker’s $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit against the conservative news network, sources familiar with the matter revealed. A statement issued on Sunday night by Delaware Superior Court Judge Eric Davis announcing a one-day postponement of the trial was seen as a move to provide the parties with additional time to potentially reach an agreement. Consequently, final jury selection and opening arguments, originally slated for Monday, were rescheduled for Tuesday.

During a brief hearing on Monday morning to formally announce the delay, Judge Davis did not offer any specific reasons for the postponement other than stating that such occurrences are not uncommon in lengthy trials. Despite a room filled with reporters eager for updates, the judge made it clear that it was not a press conference, asserting, “I don’t do that.”

The defamation suit stems from allegations that Dominion was involved in a scheme to manipulate the 2020 election in favor of Joe Biden and against Donald Trump, made by various guests on Fox News programs. While sporadic settlement discussions had been ongoing, including a meeting with a mediator in December that did not result in an agreement, talks became more intense over the weekend as Fox Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch prepared to testify in the trial. Murdoch, expected to be among the initial witnesses called to the stand, may have testified as soon as Monday afternoon.

A settlement in the case would spare Murdoch, 92, from having to defend the network’s decision to allow hosts and guests to propagate false claims about Dominion and the election, despite his own belief that no election fraud occurred. The baseless conspiracy theory, endorsed by figures like Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani, alleged that Dominion tampered with votes to sway the election in Biden’s favor.

Earlier in April, Fox News and former host Lou Dobbs settled a defamation lawsuit brought by a Venezuelan businessman falsely implicated in the conspiracy theory on-air. The terms of the confidential settlement with Majed Khalil were not disclosed, avoiding another potentially damaging trial for the network.

Key figures like Murdoch’s son, Lachlan, Fox Corp.’s CEO Suzanne Scott, and network hosts Maria Bartiromo and Tucker Carlson are expected to testify in the upcoming trial, which is projected to span six weeks. Fox has maintained that its reporting on election-related matters was of national significance and protected by the First Amendment. However, in a written ruling in March, Judge Davis stated unequivocally that the network’s statements regarding Dominion and the 2020 election were false.

The case, Dominion Voting Systems v. Fox News Network LLC, N21C-03-257, is being heard in the Delaware Superior Court in Wilmington. As settlement talks intensify, the outcome of the high-stakes trial remains uncertain.

(Source: Bloomberg)

Original Story at – 2024-05-14 10:46:21

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