CNN, the Financial Times, CNBC, Nikkei and the New York Times are just several of the organizations that have withdrawn as media partners over the alleged murder of Khashoggi. Now Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has announced he won’t participate.
In symbolic terms, the withdrawals remove the gloss from the conference — a well-deserved coming-down for the kingdom. In practical terms, the withdrawals leave conference organizers scrambling to pair a dwindling crowd of panelists with a dwindling crew of moderators. Piloting the panel discussions now falls to Al Arabiya, a Saudi-owned news outlet, and various international business types.
The Erik Wemple Blog has contacted the event sponsor as well as a number of people who are still on board to participate. Response has been minimal.
Without Bartiromo, the conference would move from troubled to desperate. According to an informed source, conference officials at one point proposed that Bartiromo interview a high-powered panel of regional leaders: MBS, United Arab Emirates vice president and prime minister Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Egyptian President Abdel Fatah el-Sissi and King Abdullah II of Jordan. The topic of the panel was “visionary leadership” and its role in converting the Arab world into an economic powerhouse.
Was Fox Business cool with this? A network spokesperson responded to the Erik Wemple Blog, “Maria is not participating in this panel and the situation is still under review.” It’s unclear precisely when Fox Business will end its deliberations on participation. It’s now in a bit of a bind, considering that it faces this choice: 1) Participate in the conference even after Mnuchin, who represents an administration that has been cozy with MBS, withdrew; or 2) Pull out of the conference after Mnuchin’s move, yielding the impression that the network awaited the decision of the Trump administration before finalizing its own.