Fox News Studios in New York on Nov. 28, 2018. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — Without giving a reason, the Delaware judge presiding over the $1.6 billion libel lawsuit brought by a voting machine company against Fox News announced Sunday evening that he would postpone the start of the process on Tuesday.

The trial, which has attracted international interest, was due to begin Monday morning with jury selection and opening arguments.

The case revolves around whether Fox smeared Dominion Voting Systems by spreading false allegations that the company rigged the 2020 presidential election to prevent former President Donald Trump’s re-election. Filings in the lawsuit show that many presenters and network executives did not believe the allegations, but were airing them anyway.

Claire Bischoff, a Dominion spokeswoman, said the company would not comment on the postponement. Representatives for Fox News and its parent company, Fox Corp., who are representing the accused party, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

In his statement, Delaware Superior Court Judge Eric Davis limited himself to saying that the trial, including jury selection, will continue until Tuesday and that he will announce the adjournment in court Monday.

That’s when Fox News executives and the network’s star anchors needed to begin to answer for their role in spreading doubt about the 2022 presidential election and creating a deep and lingering wound in American democracy. .

Jurors selected to hear the Dominion Voting Systems trial will have to answer a specific question: Did Fox smear the voting machine company by spreading false reports that the election was rigged against President Trump of era, even though many behind closed doors doubted that the false claims were being promoted by Trump and his allies?

However, context carries enormous weight. A trial would test the freedom of the press and the reputation of the Conservatives’ favorite source of information. It would also expose the flow of disinformation that helped spark the January 6, 2021 insurrection on the United States Capitol and continues to fuel Trump’s hopes of returning to power in 2024.

Fox News stars Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity, along with founder Rupert Murdoch, are among those due to testify.

Unless an agreement is reached, opening arguments are now due to begin on Tuesday. ___ Associated Press writers Randall Chase, in Dover, Delaware; and Jennifer Peltz, New York, contributed to this report.

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