Fox Business pulls out of Saudi business conference amid Khashoggi probe

October 18, 2018
Category: Business & Work

And then there were none.

Fox Business Network, the last North American media partner for a crumbling Saudi business conference, canceled Thursday, hours after President Trump's treasury secretary said he would not attend the "Davos in the Desert" conference either.

The network said it was still pursuing an interview with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Maria Bartiromo had moderated a session at the conference last year and was invited this year, but was not going unless there was an "unrestricted interview" with the Saudi leader.

All other North American and European media partners ditched the Saudi showcase amid a widening scandal over the disappearance on Oct. 2 of Jamal Khashoggi, a leading Saudi journalist and Washington Post columnist, while in Saudi custody.

Bloomberg, CNBC, CNN, The Economist, The Financial Times, Los Angeles Times and New York Times were among outlets spurning Mohammed bin Salman's splashy conference, to be held at the same Riyadh hotel where the leader had roughed up and imprisoned members of the nation's wealthy months earlier.

Business leaders have also canceled on the conference, and some said they would not work with the Saudis until there was an independent investigation of the Khashoggi case.

The Washington Post's CEO and publisher, Fred Ryan, on Tuesday said the Saudi government "can no longer remain silent" and that "it cannot be business as usual" with Saudi Arabia until an explanation is provided. Republican and Democratic members of Congress have taken up the call.

Khashoggi had been a critic of Mohammed bin Salman and what he called "an Iron Curtain" on freedom of expression in his homeland and much of the Arab world. Turkish accounts have said Khashoggi was slain in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul by a 15-member hit team sent by Riyadh.