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Fox News Defamation Case Delayed Night Before It Would Have Started – What Does It Mean?

A Maryland court has delayed Fox News’s defamation case one day before it was scheduled to start. The news corporation is facing a defamation suit from Dominion Voting Systems, a company that Fox News claimed rigged the 2020 election in favor of Democratic candidate Joe Biden. Dominion has sought massive damages–the voting machine company is demanding $1.6 billion for Fox News’s damaging claims.

“The Court has decided to continue the start of the trial, including jury selection, until Tuesday, April 18, 2023, at 9:00 a.m. I will make such an announcement tomorrow at 9:00 a.m. in Courtroom 7E,” the judge said in an official statement Sunday evening. In legal terms, “continue” means to postpone.

Looking for a Settlement?

Fox might be angling to settle the matter out of court. Sources close to the case have told reporters that Fox feels taking the issue to trial could be highly damaging, as there is little evidence that Dominion committed any wrongdoing during the 2020 election. 

“Dominion has seemed quite motivated, throughout this case, to play it out on a public stage and correct the larger record on election denialism,” says RonNell Anderson Jones, a law professor at the University of Utah. Jones noted that Fox might feel more motivated to simply pay Dominion damages in light of the pending testimony from Abby Grossberg.

Abby Grossberg Testimony Could Hurt Fox

Abby Grossberg, a former Fox producer, has recently announced that she’ll be testifying against the news organization. She has claimed that Fox’s lawyers pressured her into defending the network on-air in the wake of the Dominion lawsuit. She’s also filed her own suit against Fox, including CEO Suzanne Scott, and has accused the news company of deleting messages from her phone.

The case has become a flashpoint online, as it’s taking Fox to task for what many believe to be outright lies the organization put forward during the 2020 election. Panels of independent investigators found no evidence of wrongdoing during the election, but Fox repeatedly aired an unfounded theory that Dominion was complicit in a sweeping election fraud conspiracy.

Settling to Save Face

Settling the case out of court would allow Fox to quietly leave the election controversy in the past and not face scrutiny in the public eye for its journalistic standards. Time will tell whether the network feels confident in its ability to prove its claims regarding the election. If Fox does decide to settle, it would indicate that the company is unwilling to face a panel of jurors with its defense.