As a rule, international conferences bask in publicity, the better to boost attendance and prestige. The sort of publicity that has fallen on the Saudi Future Investment Initiative (FII), though, hasn’t helped. The Oct. 23-25 event, “powered” by the kingdom’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), has become the target of worldwide disgust with mounting evidence that Saudi officials bear responsibility for the disappearance and alleged brutal murder of Saudi journalist and Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi, who entered the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2 and hasn’t surfaced since.

CNN, the Financial Times, CNBC, Nikkei and the New York Times are just several of the organizations that have withdrawn as media partners over the alleged murder of Khashoggi.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 conference program on the FII website is stingy with details on who’s paneling and who’s moderating. The presentation includes times, titles of the panels and a description of the content. But no moderators or panelists:

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.

The barren roster of notables places pressure on Fox Business Network and its star host, Maria Bartiromo. At last year’s conference, Bartiromo interviewed Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), a high-profile moment that would please any cable-news executive. As Western media outlets have bolted from the 2018 event, however, Fox Business has kept the matter under review for the past week, though Bartiromo spoke in pessimistic terms earlier this week about the prospect.

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.