Fox Business Network has withdrawn as a sponsor of next week’s Future Investment Initiative in Saudi Arabia amid growing concerns about the kingdom’s involvement in the death of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.
“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 Thursday.
A network executive told TheWrap that Fox Business anchor Maria Bartiromo was also out but might still go to Saudi Arabia if the kingdom grants an “unrestricted interview” with the crown prince, Mohammad Bin Salman. Last year,Bartiromo co-hosted a panel at the event with the crown prince.
The network was the last major non-Saudi media sponsor to formally exit the event slated to take place later this month.
Over the last 10 days, the New York Times, CNN, CNBC, Bloomberg, the Financial Times and Nikkei have all dropped out from the conference informally billed as the “Davos of the Desert.” The Fox Business pullout comes just hour after Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin revealed that he too was planning to skip the event.
The conference came under a cloud after Turkish officials accused Saudi Arabia of killing the regime dissident inside their consulate in Istanbul, employing a 15-man hit squad who subsequently chopped Khashoggi up with a bone saw. Secretly recorded audio of the the team dismembering Khashoggi is currently circulating among Turkish media the New York Times reported
Saudi Arabia has categorically denied any wrongdoing, but broader fallout has continued. Earlier this week talent agency Endeavor revealed their intention to cancel a $400 million investment deal with the country after first saying they were “assessing” the matter. Global institutions from museums to the WWE have also faced pressure to divest from the kingdom.
On Thursday Secretary of State Mike Pompeo fresh off his emergency visit to Saudi Arabia said the nation’s rulers has promised a thorough “investigation” into the matter.
Also on Thursday, the Washington Post published what they said would be Khashoggi’s last column for the paper, which covered diminished press freedom in the Arab world. In a note to readers at the top of the piece, the paper’s Global Opinion Editor Karen Attiah said she decided to run the piece as it became increasingly clear the columnist was dead.
“I received this column from Jamal Khashoggi’s translator and assistant the day after Jamal was reported missing in Istanbul,” said Attiah. “The Post held off publishing it because we hoped Jamal would come back to us so that he and I could edit it together. Now I have to accept: That is not going to happen. This is the last piece of his I will edit for The Post.”