(Wilmington) The debates are due to begin on Tuesday at the highly anticipated trial of the American chain Fox News, accused of having propagated the false thesis of a rigged presidential election in 2020 by an electronic voting machine company, which is claiming 1.6 billion euros. dollars in damages.
Jury selection resumed Tuesday morning in Delaware State Superior Court in Wilmington ahead of opening statements from both sides scheduled for later in the day, an AFP reporter noted.
Judge Eric Davis had postponed the hearing from Monday to Tuesday, a delay which suggested last-minute negotiations between, on the one hand, the chain and its parent company Fox Corporation and, on the other, the company Dominion Voting Systems.
Whatever the financial terms, a deal would save the conservatives’ favorite channel and the Murdoch family from facing “the libel trial of the century” as The New York Times dubbed it on Monday. And to Rupert Murdoch, 92, the prospect of possibly having to testify on the stand.
The procedure has already given rise to an embarrassing unpacking for Fox News, with the publication of email or text exchanges showing that stars of the channel, and even Rupert Murdoch, hardly believed, in November 2020, in the scenario of a rigged election, while the accusations were all over the air.
The trial is eagerly awaited in the United States, where it is seen as a test for the limits of freedom of expression, guaranteed by the first amendment to the Constitution, as well as for the fight against misinformation.
In total, Dominion Voting Systems, which operated in 28 states during the 2020 election, is seeking $1.6 billion in damages in civil court.
A huge sum but up to the height according to the company of the prejudice for having been presented on the most watched channel of American cable as “the bad guy” of a “story invented from scratch” after the presidential election of November 2020 lost by Donald Trump, she wrote in her complaint.
During the preparatory phase, Judge Eric Davis found it “clear as water that no assertion about Dominion in the 2020 election (was) true.” Dominion points to twenty excerpts that it considers defamatory.
But the company will have to establish a deliberate will to lie at Fox News and the jury will have to reach a unanimous verdict for a conviction.
A must in the conservative camp, and regularly accused of echoing conspiracy theories, Fox News is playing big and wants to make the trial an emblematic case for freedom of the press.
For the network, it was legitimate to give the floor to the Trump camp when it contested the vote and “essential for the search for the truth” to let all parties speak.
But Dominion Voting Systems relies on internal discussions to argue that Fox News was lying on purpose, so as not to lose its loyal viewers to Donald Trump.
“Gotta fire her,” also said one of the network’s stars, Tucker Carlson, upon seeing a tweet from a network reporter brushing aside accusations of fraud.
“It’s hurting the business significantly. The stock price is falling. This is no joke,” he added.
Fox News accuses Dominion Voting Systems of having made a truncated and biased selection of messages.
The trial is due to conclude at the end of May.