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Fox Business Network Finally Ditches Saudi Conference, Two Weeks After Khashoggi’s Murder

Only after the Trump administration pulled its involvement with the Saudi investment event did Fox's sister network finally end its sponsorship.

Maxwell Tani10.18.18 3:12 PM ET

Fox Business Network on Thursday finally pulled its sponsorship from a Saudi conference—a week after most other American media outlets ditched the event—in light of the country’s suspected role in the disappearance and presumed murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

In a statement on Thursday, Fox News’ sister network said it will no longer participate in the investment-focused conference, which was hosted in Riyadh by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund.

“FOX Business Network has canceled its sponsorship and participation in the Future Investment Initiative conference in Saudi Arabia,” the network’s statement read.

The right-leaning network did leave the door open for some limited participation, saying that FBN host Maria Bartiromo could still attend the conference if she was allowed to interview Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman without preconditions.

Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist critical of the Saudi administration, disappeared earlier this month after visiting the Saudi consulate in Turkey to obtain marriage license papers. Subsequent reporting indicated that while inside the consulate, he was brutally tortured, murdered, and dismembered by Saudi agents.

Saudi Arabia has denied the allegations, but several recent reports said the country has considered claiming his death was the result of an interrogation gone awry.

Following the news of the kingdom’s likely involvement in Khashoggi’s disappearance, pressure mounted on news organizations and top officials to pull out of the Saudi-led conference.

The New York Times, CNN, CNBC, Bloomberg, and the Financial Times all pulled out last week after the Post noted their participation in the conference.

Business executives including JPMorgan Chase chief executive Jamie Dimon and Y Combinator president Sam Altman also dropped out of the conference last week.

And after a week of pressure, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced on Thursday he would no longer attend. Hours later, Fox Business Network finally followed suit.

Despite the gruesome reports and condemnations from both Republican and Democratic officials alike, Fox Business maintained for more than a week that it was evaluating its role in the conference, before ultimately following the Trump administration’s lead on Thursday.

The Post’s Erik Wemple reported that Bartiromo was at one point potentially going to interview the crown prince, 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.

But she dropped out of the conference before Fox Business Network pulled the plug on its sponsorship.