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Murdoch reportedly ready to settle with claimants in defamation action against Fox News

Business

The start of Dominion Voting Systems’ defamation trial against Fox News has been pushed back a day, amid reports the media giant is pursuing settlement talks.

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A source familiar with the matter who was not authorised to speak publicly told Reuters that Fox is seeking a possible settlement. The Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal also reported that Fox was pursuing settlement talks, citing sources.

Dominion is suing Fox Corp and Fox News in a defamation lawsuit over the network’s coverage of the 2020 US presidential election.

“The Court has decided to continue the start of the trial, including jury selection, until Tuesday, April 18, 2023 at 9:00 a.m,” Judge Eric Davis said in a statement on Monday, without providing a reason for the delay.

“I will make such an announcement tomorrow at 9:00 a.m. in Courtroom 7E,” he added.

Davis had said on Thursday he expected to conclude jury selection on Monday and to proceed to opening statements.

A Dominion spokesperson declined to comment, while Fox did not immediately reply to requests for comment on the delay.

Davis on Wednesday sanctioned Fox News, handing Dominion a fresh chance to gather evidence after Fox withheld records until the eve of the trial.

The evidence includes recordings of Rudy Giuliani, former US president Donald Trump’s lawyer, saying in pre-taped Fox appearances that he did not have any evidence to back up the false allegations of election rigging by Dominion in the 2020 race that are at the heart of the lawsuit.

The recordings were made by a former Fox employee who is currently suing the network.

Davis said he would also very likely tap an outside investigator to probe Fox’s late disclosure of the evidence and take whatever steps necessary to remedy the situation, which he described as troubling.

Fox said in a statement on Wednesday that it “produced the supplemental information” to Dominion “when we first learned it”.

The trial is one of the most closely-watched US defamation cases in years, involving a leading cable news outlet with numerous conservative commentators.

Fox owner Rupert Murdoch is set to testify, along with a parade of Fox executives and on-air hosts, including Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity and Jeanine Pirro.

Dominion has accused Fox of ruining its reputation by airing baseless claims that its machines secretly changed votes in favour of Democrat Joe Biden, who defeated then-president Trump, a Republican, in the 2020 presidential election.

Dominion has said Fox’s conduct was damaging to American democracy and the network must be held accountable, while Fox said on Friday that Dominion’s lawsuit was a threat to press freedom.

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