Fox Business Network is the latest media sponsor to pull out of the Future Investment Initiative Conference scheduled to be held in Riyadh from October 23-25. They have also removed show host Maria Bartiromo from her speaking spot at the event, but left the possibility open for her to be added back under one specific circumstance.
If the Saudis let her have an unrestricted interview with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, they will let her attend the event and speak there.
“Fox Business Network has canceled its sponsorship and participation in the Future Investment Initiative conference in Saudi Arabia. We continue to seek an interview with Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman,” the network said in a statement. Fox Business anchor had been scheduled to take part in the event, but will not attend unless there is an opportunity for her to conduct an unrestricted interview with the Saudi leader, according to a person familiar with the matter. The network has been trying to secure such a conversation, this person said.
The conference is hosted by the Public Investment Fund, the Saudi sovereign wealth fund. Dubbed “Davos in the Desert,” the conference was first held last year, and has been seen as an opportunity for the mideast nation to spotlight the modernization efforts of Crown Prince Mohammed.
The outrage over the disappearance and alleged murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi has sparked many western companies and media outlets to abandon the conference. It’s untenable to attend at this point with so much mounting evidence of direct involvement by the Crown Prince.
The Saudis could go a long way towards clearing their name of charges they deny by letting Bartiromo interview the Crown Prince. At this point, keeping MBS insulated isn’t doing themselves any favors.