July 14, 2024

The trial in Dominion v. Fox News, which has already resulted in bombshell revelations about the right-wing media giant and the 2020 election, is scheduled to begin Tuesday. Unless a settlement is reached, a jury will determine whether Fox is financially liable for broadcasting and promoting false claims about Dominion Voting Systems voting machines rigging the 2020 election and the case could have a big impact on the consequences of broadcasting false claims and conspiracy theories in the future. 

During the pretrial discovery period, text messages between Fox News anchors and executives, along with hundreds of pages of filings and depositions, were released to the public, giving people an unprecedented look inside Fox News and the chaos behind the coverage of the 2020 election and the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection. It also revealed that several of the networks hosts and executives did not believe the election fraud claims they were promoting on air. 

Its extremely rare for a defamation case to go to trial; most civil lawsuits are dismissed or settled. An unexpected delay on Monday led to speculation that settlement talks were back on, and negotiations can continue up until a verdict is reached.  

At stake is not only monetary and reputational damage, but the case could also test the longtime standard that actual malice, or knowing that something is a lie and spreading it anyway, is necessary to prove defamation of public figures some observers believe the case could end up at the Supreme Court. Either way, the case will doubtless influence political coverage at Fox and other networks as the 2024 campaign heats up.

Opening statements are scheduled for Tuesday in Delaware, where both Fox and Dominion are incorporated, and the trial could last up to six weeks. Heres everything you need to know as it begins.