Judge Eric M. Davis confirmed in the courtroom that the start of the Dominion Voting Systems-Fox News Network, LLC/ Fox Corp defamation case trial is being delayed by a day, adding that the move was his idea and “is not unusual.” He then told prospective jurors to go back home and instructed them “not to research” the case. They’ll return to complete jury selection tomorrow at 9 a.m. ET.
The brief proceeding reportedly lasted just five minutes. At one point, Judge Davis looked at the significant number of reporters, and remarked “this is not a news conference.” Similar to his Sunday night statement, he declined to provide an explanation for his one-day delay or address reports of a potential settlement.
Original (Sunday, April 16)
Dominion Voting Systems’ $1.6 billion defamation case against Fox News Network, LLC and Fox Corporation was supposed to go to jury trial beginning Monday, April 17. However, the trial’s start date has been pushed back a day, to Tuesday, Delaware Superior Court judge Eric M. Davis announced Sunday evening.
““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,” Davis said in a statement.
It’s not totally clear as to why the start of what is scheduled to be a six-week jury trial is being pushed back a day, but the Wall Street Journal reported Sunday that the network “has made a late push to settle the dispute out of court, people familiar with the situation said Sunday.”
Many legal observers have expressed surprise that the two sides haven’t reached a settlement yet, as opposed to going to a high-stakes, highly-publicized jury trial. Perhaps something between the two sides has changed and Judge Davis is delaying the trial by a day to essentially let that process unfold. Perhaps that’s not the case at all. We should find out for sure quite soon at some point on Monday.
Numerous digital and print media outlets published trial preview stories Sunday morning (before news of the delay was announced), while CBS Sunday Morning, America’s most-watched Sunday morning news offering, was the sole TV newsmagazine to produce a piece on the case which aired on Sunday.
CBS News’ 48 Hours correspondent Erin Moriarty, a frequent contributor to Sunday Morning, reported.
Among the people she spoke with for her story on-camera are retired high-profile First Amendment attorney Lee Levine, former Fox News political editor who now holds the same title for NewsNation Chris Stirewalt, and Semafor co-founder Ben Smith.
After outlining the setbacks Fox has suffered in this case to date, to go with the analysis from her aforementioned interviewees, Moriarty says that Dominion still has its work cut out to convince a jury “that Fox and its famous faces acted with ‘actual malice.’ That they knew the claims were false and or had serious doubts about them and aired them anyway. ”
Fox’s statement is shown on the screen towards the end of the segment:
“Dominion’s lawsuit is a political crusade in search of a financial windfall, but the real cost would be cherished first amendment rights. While Dominion has pushed irrelevant and misleading information to generate headlines, FOX News remains steadfast in protecting the rights of a free press, given a verdict for Dominion and its private equity owners would have grave consequences for the entire journalism profession.”
Moriarty says in a VO, “But whatever happens in court, Dominion may already have won a victory by already embarrassing Fox — releasing texts and emails that among other things appear to show Tucker Carlson supportive of Mr. Trump on air, expressing something else privately.” A graphic of Carlson’s “I hate him passionately” message concerning Trump is then shown on screen.
Her segment ends with a sit-down with Stirewalt, who contends that he was fired two months after the 2020 election “for doing his job too well” (the company said officially that his exit was part of a “restructuring”).
Stirewalt adds, “I think what they’ve [Dominion] already won is getting this basic admission that the news has to be the news.”
After the 2020 election, Fox News aired false charges against a maker of voting machines, including that votes were “switched.” Dominion’s defamation suit, argues the false statements were made “with actual malice.” https://t.co/jphS0POkfX pic.twitter.com/53V6GTUS6s
— CBS Sunday Morning 🌞 (@CBSSunday) April 16, 2023