Reality breaks up a Saudi Prince Charming’s media narrative

The apparent hit was part of a progression that was underway long before Crown Prince Mohammed’s charm campaign, which made him out to be not some ruthless royal, but a youthful reformer who had granted Saudi women the right to drive and lifted the country’s 35-year ban on movie theaters (a potential jackpot for Hollywood).

The rebranding effort also made it easier for United States businesses to tap into the billions the crown prince controlled in the Saudi Public Investment Fund. As it happened, the fund was seeking stakes in the American entertainment and media companies that mint mythologies and own the news.

So there was Crown Prince Mohammad at an April soirée at Mr. Murdoch’s vineyard in Bel Air, Calif. Guests included the Walt Disney Company’s chairman, Robert A. Iger; the studio chief at Warner Bros., Kevin Tsujihara; and the actors Morgan Freeman and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, who overshared on Instagram that he was “blown away to be told about the level of love the Saudi people have for me.”

As the guest of honor at a Page Six-worthy dinner at the producer Brian Grazer’s Santa Monica home, the crown prince discussed Snapchat’s popularity in his kingdom with the Snap chief Evan Spiegel;Vice’s Shane Smith; Amazon’s chief — and Washington Post owner — Jeff Bezos and the agent-turned-mogul Ari Emanuel.